General Sports: February 12

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-The Indianapolis Colts have hired former Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator Frank Reich to be their next head coach. Reich had been the Eagles’ OC each of the last two seasons as the team saw a significant uptick in production between year 1 and year 2. While many credit Doug Pederson for calling the “Philly Special” (despite it being an illegal formation…yes I’m still salty), Reich played a huge role in designing and developing that play. As Trey Wingo noted on Twitter, this may actually be an upgrade over the failed Josh McDaniels hire, as the Colts will now be landing the OC that won the Super Bowl, rather than the one that lost. Reich’s offensive scheme relies heavily on run-pass options, or RPO’s, and they were extremely effective in the Eagles’ wins over the Vikings and Patriots. Under his system, Carson Wentz went from an intriguing quarterback with a lot of potential to the MVP frontrunner and after his injury, Nick Foles went from a guy who hadn’t been good since 2013 into Super Bowl MVP. With so much uncertainty surrounding the Colts’ quarterback situation given Andrew Luck’s unknown health, getting a guy like Reich could become an excellent hire.

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-Paul Pierce had his number 34 retired by the Celtics and it was quite the ceremony as Celtics legends were spotted all over the place, from Bill Russell to Kevin Garnett to Rajon Rondo. It didn’t end well for the Celtics as the new-look Cavaliers smoked the boys in green 121-99, but it was a nice moment for the Celtics legend Pierce. Speaking of the Cavs, they looked really sharp as a new unit and it seems like they made all the right trades at the deadline. It’s still early, but early returns are promising.

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-People are just now freaking out over Eagles tackle Lane Johnson’s comments about the Patriots’ culture even though the interview in which that took place on Pardon My Take aired on Friday. I’m what PMT refers to as an “Award-Winning Listener” and when I heard what Johnson had to say, I didn’t really care. He said that the Patriots seem to build their culture around fear and doesn’t get the sense that Patriots players really enjoy their time in Foxboro. He also went on to state that he would rather win 1 Super Bowl and have a blast doing it than win 5 and be miserable. I don’t know why people are making such a fuss over this. One little complaint I’d have with this statement is word choice and it’s literally just one word I disagree with: fear. I don’t think the Patriots build their culture around fear, I think they build it around what’s best for business. It’s no secret that playing for the Patriots requires one to be pretty uptight and about as professional as humanly possible. But professional football is a business, it’s not about having fun at that stage. If you are having fun, great, you’re one of the luckiest people on Earth that you get to not only play football for a living, but have a blast doing it. But that business-like mentality isn’t exclusive to the Patriots. Most teams try and conduct themselves in a similar fashion, the Patriots get more publicity for it because of their run of success. You could tell that the Eagles were a much more laid back group from as early as Week 1, as their endzone celebrations were some of the best in the newly relaxed league. It worked out well for them, just like the Patriots’ business-like approach works well in Foxboro. So really, I think people need to calm down about Johnson’s comments.

-I almost got caught looking very silly during my wrestling broadcast on Sunday.

During this match, I was reading my notes and giving off information about each wrestler when I happened to glance up at the perfect possible moment when Devin Skatzka landed the pin. This would’ve gotten pretty ugly because it was a huge win for Indiana to get themselves back into the meet with Northwestern. Northwestern ended up winning reasonably handily, but this pin made things interesting. It actually happened so fast (28 seconds) that I never even got a chance to introduce the Northwestern wrestler. Had I missed the pin, it could’ve derailed the whole broadcast. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

-The NCAA released their first bracket preview where they showcased where each team stands right now in the March Madness rankings, only doing the top 4 seeds for each region. The teams are:

1 Seeds: Virginia (#1 Overall), Villanova, Xavier, Purdue

2 Seeds: Cincinnati, Duke, Auburn, Kansas

3 Seeds: Michigan State, Texas Tech, Clemson, North Carolina

4 Seeds: Tennessee, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Arizona

I haven’t been keeping up with college basketball like I wanted to but I promise I’ll at least post my bracket when the time comes. But overall I find these seedings to be very interesting, especially considering where a lot of these teams were at the start of the season. I doubt very many people would’ve guessed that traditional football schools like Auburn, Clemson, and Ohio State would rank very highly as well as Xavier and Purdue being 1 seeds along with Cincinnati and Texas Tech being amongst the 16 best teams. But I’m very excited for March Madness season because I have no effing clue who’s going to win. Usually there’s one team you can confidently point to and say “those guys are going to go far” but I could very easily see all of these teams collapsing at any given time. Is it March yet?

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-There have been reports that the Nationals are interested in signing Jake Arrieta, which should be absolutely TERRIFYING for the rest of the National League. A potential rotation of Max Scherzer, Arrieta, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark is so wildly unfair that the Nats may go weeks without letting up a run. Roark could be the number 1 pitcher on a weak staff but on this possible Nationals’ staff, he’s the fifth man. Though signing Arrieta would take the Nationals from slim chances to re-signing Bryce Harper to zero chance. We saw that Yu Darvish got a 6-year $126M deal with the Cubs on Saturday and Arrieta has a far more impressive resume so he’s certainly going to command more money. He may want to sign soon, though, because pitchers and catchers report for most teams on Valentine’s Day.

That’s going to do it for this edition of General Sports, let me know what you think of each storyline in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Is Tony Romo a Good Broadcaster?

attends 2017 CBS Upfron at The Plaza Hotel on May 17, 2017 in New York City.

Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Jaguars was the last CBS football broadcast of the 2017-18 NFL season, since Fox had the NFC Championship and NBC has the Super Bowl. This also means that Tony Romo’s rookie year in the booth has come to a close. Romo has probably been the most polarizing broadcaster in recent memory. For about the first half of the season, everybody was in love with his style of color commentating but the second half of the season, people grew tired of the act. As an aspiring broadcaster myself, I know everything, so I’m the perfect person to tell you how to think about how Romo did in the booth this season.

We’ll start with the positives. Romo’s enthusiasm is the biggest positive for me with how he does a game. There are so many color commentators who just lack energy in the booth and at times they can get monotonous and it often takes me out of the game. You don’t get that with Romo. He’s very into every play and in turn it gets me a little more excited with how the play went. I was also a big fan of him predicting plays, though I might be alone in that regard. The main reason I was such a fan was because it helped me learn how to spot things in certain offensive or defensive looks. I always felt that I learned something watching a Romo broadcast. His insight is second-to-none in my opinion. I don’t get much from color commentators just stating what happened. I can see what happened. Romo is able to talk about the philosophy of why certain plays work against certain formations and they’re things I try and take into account when I watch a game or play Madden. He’s also got a pleasant voice to listen to. It kind of sounds like a young kid is calling the game which kind of adds a certain charm to the broadcasts as opposed to the scruffy old guy voice you’ll often get. And I think he’s reasonably funny. Not gut-wrenching by any means, but enough so that I’ll grin at his attempts at humor. A lot of times broadcasters will be super cringeworthy when they try and crack jokes, but I think Romo’s sense of humor is solid.

Now to the part I’m sure you’re all itching for: the negatives. As big a fan as I am of Romo’s style, he can be a little much at times. He doesn’t let the game breathe with silence. It’s not like radio where dead air is the worst thing. Someone doesn’t always have to be talking during a TV broadcast. But Romo seems like he’s so uncomfortable with silence that he will find SOMETHING to say no matter how unimportant it might seem. Sometimes, it seems like he’s so scared to let silence happen that he will talk himself in circles until the ball is snapped and Jim Nantz is forced to take over. What I mean by “talk himself in circles” is that he’ll often end his point the way he started it like he was writing an essay where he basically repeats his thesis statement. He’ll start with something like “the wheel route is effective against this kind of defense, yada yada yada, and that’s why the wheel route is so effective.” I’m heavily paraphrasing here, but that’s the general gist of it. Even when he does get some silence in, you can kind of feel how tense he is about it. Silence in a broadcast always seems to be more uncomfortable with Romo than any other broadcaster. He also does this weird thing during replays where he makes these incomprehensible noises. Like when they’re reviewing whether a receiver got both feet in bounds, Romo will be like “Does he get his feet in? Yeeeeeee…ooooooooo….gaaaaaaaaah I dunno’ Jim.” Again, I love the enthusiasm he brings to the table, but that gets real old, real fast. It’d be one thing if he did it once but it’s seemingly every time there’s a close play and they look at it on replay.

So in conclusion, I think Romo is a talented broadcaster, but he’s got a lot to learn. He’s definitely an improvement over Phil Simms as Jim Nantz’s partner, I don’t think anybody’s denying that. But I think he was rushed into CBS’s prime spot a little too early. He’s pretty raw and has a lot to learn and improve on. I don’t think he’d be catching nearly as much heat as he does if he were on a team with Ian Eagle or the painfully boring Spero Dede (who I think could use a bit of Romo’s energy). The problem for CBS being, who would you replace Simms with? Because their options are Adam Archuleta, Dan Fouts, Trent Green, Rich Gannon, Steve Beurlein, and James Lofton. I may be biased because he went to Indiana, but I think Trent Green would probably be the best option if not Romo. But I think that CBS made a mistake putting Romo in with Nantz in his first season. But as far as talent in the booth goes, Tony Romo is as talented as they come. He’s just gotta work on a few things and he’ll have to learn them fast because CBS has the Super Bowl next year and I’d put all my money on CBS giving him and Nantz the job.

That’s going to do it for today’s blog, congratulations to the Patriots and Eagles on reaching Super Bowl LII, which is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX, a 24-21 win for the Patriots. I’m going to have more stuff for the big game as the next couple of weeks go on. Let me know what you think of Tony Romo as a broadcaster in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.