Women’s U of L basketball Coach Walz talks about upcoming UConn game Wednesday, Feb 26 2014
Anthony Becht Interview Wednesday, Dec 18 2013
Anthony Becht played 12 years in the NFL at the tight end position. In his career he has played for the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and Kansas City Chiefs. Since retiring Becht is still involved with football. He works for ESPN and is the Buccaneers Pre and Post Game Host for 620 WDAE.
Recently he has teamed up with Mohan’s Custom Tailors and the Doe Fund to help those in need this holiday season. Mohan’s is looking for people to donate suits or overcoats that they don’t use anymore. This charity event kicks-off a holiday season of giving at Mohan’s. When people come in and donate their suits they will receive a $100 credit toward a new custom tailored overcoat. Then those donations will be cleaned and donated to charity.
I was able to chat with Anthony about his playing days in the NFL, fatherhood, the work he is doing with Mohan’s and the Doe Fund, and this current season in the NFL.
Art Eddy: Let’s talk about the great work that you are doing with Mohan’s Custom Tailors and the Doe Fund to help those in need this holiday season.
Anthony Becht: I really think it is outstanding. I have teamed up with Mohan’s Custom Tailors after my career. Just for the fact that they have some great suits. They wanted to team up and work together to work with a charity each and every month of 2014. To kick off the year they are going to work with the Doe Fund.
Basically Mohan’s are going to donate suit jackets and suits that customers bring in. They will clean them up and give them to the Doe Fund. We see a lot of charities that supply the homeless with shelter and food. I think the Doe Fund really does a great job. What they do is actually get those in need in the workforce. They find them jobs, get them educated, and get them back on their feet so their long term success is greater than the short term.
Those people can’t afford suits or jackets. For Mohan’s to provide jackets and reach out to this charity and work with them is bar none an outstanding idea in the long term for these people in need.
AE: How can people help you guys out?
AB: They can go to Mohan Tailors dot com. They can reach out to Mohan’s if they have a suit or anything they have that they are no longer using. They can go to Mohan’s and receive a $100 discount towards the purchase of a new suit, custom suit, or overcoat. Basically the goal is to get these coats and overcoats to those people in need.
Hopefully we will be able to get over a thousand of these jackets back to the people in need. I just think it is a great idea. Just reach out to Mohan’s. Go to their website. You can call them at 212-697-0050 to get more information.
AE: Moving to sports, you played for 12 years in the NFL as a tight end for the Jets, Bucs, Rams, Cardinals, and Chiefs. Looking back at your career what do you take away the most from your days in the league?
AB: One thing Art is that it goes fast. You don’t realize how the years pile up. All of a sudden bam it kind of hits you and your career is over. I have been very fortunate. The average in the NFL is three and a half years. I definitely surpassed that playing 12 seasons.
I got to play in New York, one of the greatest cities in the world. I came down to Tampa, where I live now, and I got to go to a few places at the end of my career. I really got to see the country and see the fans, and play with different coaches and teammates.
The fact that I got to play such a long time and the longevity to stay somewhat healthy throughout my career and not miss many games was great. Being that blue collar type of tight end playing in the NFL opened up many opportunities when I was playing and now with my post football career in the media world.
AB: As a tight end that was the first thing I did. When I came to New York I had Chad Pennington and Vinnie Testaverde sitting right next to me at my locker. Immediately you try to build those bonds. That is important. I think any wide receiver, tight end, running back in this league the first person you are trying to make friends with is the quarterback.
Anything you can do to build that extra work or continuity and getting on the same page is huge. As I grew into my career and went to different teams I was kind of a guy that got gravitated to as a leader. I would be with those quarterbacks from just an experience standpoint.
For any young guy coming into the league build a relationship with the quarterback, the coordinators, and just everybody to get on the same page and put that extra work in. It can really help you develop yourself as a better player and extend your career.
AE: Did you have a few guys on opposing teams that you enjoyed matching up against?
AB: Yeah, there had been some opponents obviously playing against different teams especially in the AFC East. You look at the Miami Dolphins. They were always a big rival. You are playing against Jason Taylor twice a year. He was one of the more phenomenal defensive players to play during my time.
You look at the Patriots. Guys like Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi, these guys were just hard-nosed defensive players that accentuated what the NFL was really all about. There were challenges for me. When I was a young guy with the Jets going against these high caliber players was tough early, but made me a better player as I went on in my career. It helped me extend my career and play a long time in the NFL.
AE: Switching to this year, who is your pick to win the Super Bowl?
AB: When I look at the NFC I really see teams that are in the bottom tier of the playoff situation are really trying to fight for their position. Originally I thought the Saints were going to be a team that could really make some noise moving forward. They had an outstanding season. We see them have their struggles with the Rams recently.
I think the big thing for me is the consistency. The Seattle Seahawks have been the most consistent team. When you look at the quarterback play in Russell Wilson everyone is picking them, but that is really the main factor. Every single week they have had the ability to go out and play hard, play good, and win each and every game. They could easily be undefeated.
On the AFC side you think that it will be the Denver Broncos, but you are starting to see some flaws with this team. They struggle on defense. I feel that no matter how many stats Peyton Manning puts up they need every single yard and every touchdown. That could be a problem moving forward.
Look at the Patriots and the Ravens. I think it is going to be one of those cold weather teams that if they can just get into the playoffs, they can make some noise. Look at the Ravens. They are a team that understands the situation. They can play hard-nosed defense. They have an experienced quarterback that can make some noise. Overall though if the Broncos get hot and they can do anything with their defense then they would be the favorite going in to the playoffs.
AE: Any team surprise you this year either in a positive or negative way?
AB: I think in a positive way the Carolina Panthers have done an outstanding job this year. You talk about the head coach, Ron Rivera. Everyone wanted to fire him last season, but all of a sudden they stuck with him. Cam Newton became a better player. They get a few defensive players like Luke Kuechly and other defensive linemen that come in and really help build that team.
Now they are really a complete football team. They can run the football. They can play defense. To me they have been the surprise. I thought that they would be better, but I didn’t think that they would be in the mix to potentially with the division.
U of L’s soccer coach talks first round of NCAA game Thursday, Nov 21 2013
Cards Win Big, but Still Fall Tuesday, Sep 24 2013
AAC and ACC and AP poll and Cardinals and cards and college football and Conference USA and fiu and Florida International and Louisville and NCAA and panthers and UofL and USA Today Coaches Poll 3:03 pm
Suppose that under the new rules of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby Series” (hang with me on this) implemented by Churchill Downs, a horse is entered in a race for which you get back points for winning and, in essence, an automatic spot in the Derby field (i.e. the Santa Anita Derby). Now let’s suppose that two of the best three-year-old horses in the country and, thus, two heavy favorites are also entered in the race (neither is our original horse). Next, suppose that on the day of the race, the two big-time horses are scratched for some reason and our original horse goes on to win the race, collect the 100 points and earns a spot in the field at Churchill Downs. Now, what if the Downs decided to remove or lessen the points for this horse because it did not beat the best competition and kept the horse out of the Derby field? What if the two heavily-favored horses were allowed in instead despite being unable to compete? The outrage would be widespread.
My apologies for the analogy, but it is really hard to find any entity that does business the way it is done in college football. The above situation is essentially what happened to the University of Louisville football team as it put a 72-0 shellacking on FIU Saturday, but still fell a spot (from #6 to #7) in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Cards did all they could do against the out-manned Panthers and absolutely dominated the game. As the final score indicates, the offense did its part while the Cards’ defense surrendered just 27 total yards and precisely zero rushing yards in 34 FIU attempts. Louisville dominated in every phase of the game. Still, it was not enough.
UofL dropped a spot in the Coaches Poll, but held at number seven in the AP Poll. However, the Cards did fall on AP ballots. One writer tweeted that he was dropping the Cards a spot and Ohio State three spots for the competition the teams played (the Buckeyes hosted FCS Florida A&M Saturday and delivered a 76-0 victory). The same writer also tweeted that he struggled with the decision, but in the end opted to drop both teams (his name has been removed from the tweet below; you probably already saw it and know who he is, but just in case someone reads this, I left it out to prevent any further grief heading his way). While the AP Poll does not factor in the BCS formula, it still has a lot to do with the perceptions of programs. For the record, the same voter did not penalize Miami (FL) for its 77-7 drubbing of FCS Savannah State (a game in which the Hurricanes needed just three quarters to get 77 and the fourth quarter was shortened to 12 minutes…as we learned Saturday, the only acceptable way to actually shorten a game) nor did he move Florida State down for its 54-6 drubbing of FCS Bethune-Cookman. Baylor improved three spots (from #23 to #20) after hammering Louisiana-Monroe 70-7.
After much reflection, I did drop Ohio State in my AP poll vote. From 3rd to 6th. Also dropped Louisville a spot for same schedule reason.
It’s one thing to drop teams in the rankings for performing poorly against cupcakes; it’s something entirely different and unfair selectively penalize teams for scheduling, even though they handled their business.
There are two reasons why I don’t think the Cards should have fallen. First, the Cards, along with Baylor, hammered FBS opponents and not FCS teams that are by definition not equipped to play with the FBS big boys. When the series with FIU was booked, the Panthers looked like an up-and-coming program. FIU went to bowl games in 2010 and 2011, winning the 2010 Little Caesars Bowl over Toledo. The Panthers moved from the Sun Belt to a better league in Conference USA this season. FIU even beat Louisville at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium just two seasons ago and lost by just seven in Miami last season. The program certainly appeared on an upward trajectory under head coach Mario Cristobal. However, the team went 3-9 last season after back-to-back bowl games and Cristobal was inexplicably fired. FIU had visions of luring Butch Davis back to the Miami area. As we all know, that didn’t happen and the program is in the hands of Ron Turner. The Panthers are 0-4 to start 2013 and lost at home Bethune-Cookman as the betting line underdog a week before being lambasted by Louisville. When Louisville scheduled the game, FIU looked like a viable opponent moving in the right direction. How could UofL have known what FIU would become this season when it scheduled the game? To punish the Cards for playing the Panthers is to expect the administration to be able to see the future.
By the way, our AP voter did move Baylor up three spots for a blowout win over a Louisiana-Monroe team that fell to the Bears by just five last season (the Warhawks went 8-5 last season and went to the program’s first ever bowl game). ULM looked like a solid game on Baylor’s schedule until it played out on the field. The Bears were not punished because their competition was not good enough. ULM is now 2-2 on the year with wins vs. Grambling State and at Wake Forest and blowout losses at Oklahoma and Baylor.
Secondly, the players on the field don’t have a lot to do with scheduling, so they shouldn’t drop a spot for playing well against a bad team. Even if you do not accept that the FIU game didn’t look that bad on paper when first scheduled, it’s important to remember that nobody asks the players if they want FIU on the slate. Administrators decide football scheduling years in advance, so current players and probably current coaches to a degree do not have input on the schedule. Cardinal players went out and played well against a bad team they did not choose to play. Since they did not choose the game, I don’t think the players should be punished by dropping a ranking when they go out and do their job effectively. Our voter said the reason he dropped the Cards was for having the game on the schedule and not for performance. After a loss and seven-point win, Louisville could have tried to buy out FIU for fear of another loss or close contest. The Cards did not do that and are still punished by some pollsters.
In the end, college football was, is and likely will continue to be all about perception. Programs with tradition that goes back decades will continue to be held in higher regard than teams like Louisville, who have burst onto the scene more recently. It is just a shame that even in dominating a team 72-0, the Cards are still held to a different standard than a Miami, which did not drop a spot. The impending move to the ACC in 2014 will likely cure some of the perception ills for the Cards, but probably not all. Louisville football will continually have to prove to a national audience that it deserves to be looked at as a big-time program. It may not be easy, but then again, long shots seem to have a knack for winning the Kentucky Derby.
Five Reasons Closer-Than-Expected Win at UK Changes Nothing for Cards Wednesday, Sep 18 2013
A top ten Louisville team went to Commonwealth Stadium Saturday and picked up a 27-13 win over arch rival Kentucky. Many Cardinal fans have since expressed disappointment in the margin of victory and the way the team played in the game. Many cynics on the national landscape have started the narrative that maybe this Louisville team is not as good as many thought. While the Cards certainly played a lackluster first half offensively, Louisville led at halftime and the game was never in doubt in the second half. Here are five reasons why Louisville fans should not panic and why the game in Lexington Saturday changes nothing for the Cards:
1. Louisville dominated the second half. There’s no question the UK defense played great to open the game. The Cats’ secondary played better than anyone expected, stifling the Cardinal passing attack and star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Up front, the Wildcats also dominated the trenches early, not allowing the Cards to mount a running attack. There’s also no question the Cards looked tight in the first half and looked the part of the team with all the pressure on it as the heavy favorite in a rivalry game. That all changed in the second half. Bridgewater found his rhythm, throwing for 159 yards on 8 of 13 passing. The Cards’ running backs and offensive line finally wore down the Cats in the second half as Louisville ran for 180 yards and 2 TDs (both Senorise Perry with 94 second half yards). The defense was good all game, allowing just one touchdown. The second half was what most expected out of the entire game.
2. The goal remains the same. Just win. It sounds simple and, at least in theory, it is. But, the outside pressure to blow teams out because of a weak schedule can seep in and cause the team to get tight. That’s what the first half looked like against Kentucky to me. At halftime, Charlie Strong said he was “pissed” and he probably explained to his team to just win the game. The Cards looked much looser in the second half and they simply played to win rather than playing to blow out the opposition.
A sidebar: Before the season, on the Sunday Morning Hangover with StraitPinkie.com (Sundays 10AM-Noon on ESPN 680), we asked Cardinal fans their expectations for this team. We insisted that expecting to go undefeated was not fair and would likely lead to disappointment. But, hoping to go undefeated was completely justified. Most said they weren’t expecting to go undefeated, but maybe one loss. There’s no question an undefeated season is a possibility for this team, but an unblemished mark is incredibly difficult to achieve for any team. I think we’ve learned this week that many fans deep down do expect no losses and have visions of a national title game berth. While a possibility, playing in the title game is a very remote possibility and would require help from a lot of teams. Seasons free of expectation are generally the most fun as the goal for each game is simply to win, not win by a certain number or to cover a spread. I think it’s important for Cardinal fans to keep the big picture in mind and be happy with wins. Trying to rip apart a win because it was not impressive enough could diminish from what could be a special season. Enjoy it and don’t spend it criticizing every small shortcoming.
3. There are plenty of big games left. Despite what many have said this week, the game at Kentucky was not Louisville’s biggest remaining game or the Cards’ last chance to impress on a national stage. While the American is certainly not a powerhouse conference (four of the ten teams are winless), there are some decent teams and matchups left for the Cards. Central Florida won at Penn State last weekend and Louisville hosts UCF on a Friday night (October 18) under the national TV spotlight. The Knights received votes in both polls this week and could very well be ranked if they don’t lose before that Friday night (they host South Carolina September 28 after a bye week this week). Rutgers lost an overtime thriller at Fresno State to open the season and hosts Arkansas this week in a game that could do a lot for the AAC. A Rutgers win would certainly add to an already intriguing Thursday night national TV matchup between the Cards and Scarlet Knights (October 10). Louisville will have a chance to impress at UConn (winless at this time) on a Friday night (November 8) in front of a national audience. In addition, the season finale at Cincinnati could still be for a conference title and a battle of ranked teams if the Bearcats get there with just the one loss (Thursday night, December 5). Finally, a date with Houston (2-0 right now) November 16 could prove to be a big game for the Cards as well.
4. The Cards’ running game was good. The coaching staff made it a point to run the ball and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson stuck to it against Kentucky. Louisville ran for 242 yards and, as already mentioned, ran very effectively in the second half. A strong running game leads to time coming off the clock more quickly and leaves less time to score a lot of points and blow teams out. Louisville should not be penalized for running the ball well enough to run time off the clock. If the rushing attack continues to improve and the running backs use the game in Lexington as a springboard, the Cardinals will be just fine the rest of the way.
5. Kentucky may be better than we thought. UK is still a big variable as the Cats’ defense certainly played very well in the first half. We know the Kentucky offense can move the ball. Turnovers and dropped balls have plagued the Cats, but those things are fixable. If Max Smith is healthy, this team could be competitive in some SEC games and maybe even pull an upset. Cards fans will feel a lot better about the win if UK continues to improve every week. With the bye week to prepare, don’t be surprised if the Cats keep the SEC opener close, hosting an offensively-challenged Florida team.
Yes, the Louisville win at Kentucky was closer than most expected. No, it doesn’t change anything about a possible special season for the Cards. Both teams can be relatively happy about the outcome. Louisville was dominant in the second half while Kentucky showed great improvement defensively and held its own against a top ten team. There’s a lot of football to be played this season and it will be a lot of fun to see how everything plays out. Sit back, relax and enjoy the wins when you can get them.
Larry Fitzgerald feels Calvin Johnson is the best WR in the NFL Friday, Sep 13 2013
A lot of high praise for Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been coming out of Arizona. First Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians called Calvin the best in the NFL. The conversation started when he was talking about the matchup between Johnson and his cornerback Patrick Peterson. Arians said, “I think an elite player like Patrick, in my opinion, who is probably the best corner in the league, is going against the best receiver in the league.”
Next the Cardinals own star wide out, Larry Fitzgerald spoke about Megatron. “Calvin’s the best,” Arizona Fitzgerald said. “I mean, look at his numbers. It is what it is.”
Johnson led the league with 1,964 receiving yards and with those numbers broke Jerry Rice’s single season record, which was at 1,848 yards. Larry only had 798 receiving yards, his lowest total since his rookie season. Still he and his other wide out teammates were catching passes from four different quarterbacks.
Fitzgerald who will most likely be in the Hall of Fame career has an impressive resume. Currently he has 772 receptions, which is the most of any receiver in the past 140 games. Larry is also the second-youngest player to reach 10,000 career yards. Calvin Johnson is reaching in on Fitz’s mark. So far Johnson has 7,836 yards.
So do all of the Cardinals think that Johnson is the best? Patrick Peterson doesn’t not share his teammates and head coach’s thoughts. Peterson said, “He’s done a lot of great things for his team, and he had a huge success last year hooking up with Matthew Stafford and gaining all those yards. I would never put another guy in front of my guy. I believe Larry’s still the best receiver in the game.”
This weekend the two star wide outs will face each other. Even though Fitzgerald was put on the injury list and didn’t fully participate in practice, he told reporters he will play on Sunday. Now can Larry’s teammate Patrick help contain Calvin? He might need some help with his safeties. Peterson did pick off seven passes in last year and had 121 tackles. The two time Pro Bowler has his work cut out for him this weekend.