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Football Season Coverage

Cats in the NFL: Sunday, November 23

It’s another busy day for the former Kentucky Wildcats in the NFL. Let’s see what’s going on this sports-packed Sunday.

Randall Cobb & Tim Masthay – Green Bay Packers

The Packers hit the road against divisional rival Minnesota this afternoon at 1. The Pack are winners of six of their last seven games and look to continue that against the lowly Vikings. Minnesota also has former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading their team so that hast to give Masthay and Cobb some extra incentive, right?

Avery Williamson & Wesley Woodyard – Tennessee Titans

It’s been a tough year for the Titans so far, but individually, former Wildcats Williamson and Woodyard have shined in Nashville. Tennessee travels to Philadelphia this week for a matchup with the Eagles, and with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger yet to pick up his first win leading the Titans, it could be a long day for the boys in blue. Williamson was praised this week in an article written by the Associated Press after his two sacks against Ben Roethlisberger. Keep it up big guy.

Stevie Johnson – San Francisco 49ers

Johnson has proven himself as a steady receiver everywhere he plays as his first year in San Francisco has gone well. Johnson has 32 receptions on the year for 407 yards and three TDs. The 49ers will need him at home this afternoon in the 4:00 game against the Redskins of Washington.

Jacob Tamme & Danny Trevathan – Denver Broncos

Tamme has done well for himself in Denver under the spotlight of Peyton Manning. Tamme has 10 receptions on the year in the tight end position for two TDs. The Broncos play in Mile High Stadium this afternoon against the up and coming Miami Dolphins in an AFC showdown.

Corey Peters – Atlanta Falcons

Corey Peters is in his fifth season in the NFL and the Falcons somehow find themselves atop the AFC South despite having a losing record. He has 16 tackles on the year and one sack, but it’ll be a tough challenge for Atlanta as they host the much improved Browns this afternoon at 1.

@WilderTreadKSR


Kentucky/Louisville Football Game a Noon Kickoff

After a week of waiting, it has been announced that next Saturday’s Kentucky/Louisville football game in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium will be a noon kickoff and televised on ESPN2.

Expect Cardinals to begin the Crown Royal/line beard themed pregame to begin around 5am.

#BeatLouisville

@WilderTreadKSR


Denzil Ware hints at injury

(h/t @ejhs18)

In today’s edition of ‘Reading Twitter Tea Leaves’, it looks like Redshirt Denzil Ware might have an injury to be on the look out for.

Ware came to Kentucky last year as the highest-rated signee according to ESPN which ranked him as the No. 113 overall prospect and the 12th best DE. While it won’t affect Kentucky on the field against Louisville, it is something to be worried about for the upcoming off season.

Ware started hinting at something wrong yesterday with these tweets, which are average for a football player just being thankful:

 

But then came this tweet this morning:

 

This comes a day after offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he thinks Ware has shown major potential during his redshirt season:

“I’ve been really impressed with Denzil Ware. I think he’s got what it takes to be an edge rusher in this league, especially in the three-down front stuff that we’re doing, I like his demeanor. He’s got a good burst. He’s getting better going against our two tackles.”

 

Take it how you will.

@Sealey_KSR


Cats To Get a Much-Needed Break

Cats To Get a Much-Needed Break

 

nsync

WEEK 13: Bye Bye Bye

I absolutely despise hyperbole, and do not employ it my my writing for this website. Having said that, no team in the history of North American football has ever needed a bye week more desperately than the Kentucky Wildcats need this bye week. After an energizing 5-1 start, the Cats have crashed back down to earth, losing 5 straight to drop to 5-6, dipping under .500 for the first time in year two of the Mark Stoops’ era. More than just losing, the Cats have been largely man-handled during their current losing streak.  Four of Kentucky’s last five opponents have scored at least forty points against the Cats’ languishing defense.  Even without the benefit of superhuman Todd Gurley, who is now sadly lost for the season with a torn ACL, the Georgia Bulldogs put up 63 points in Commonwealth Stadium. Tennessee, who has spent most of the season in offensive purgatory, exploded for 50 before calling off the dogs in the early stages of the fourth quarter.  The swagger exhibited early in the season by the Cats, especially on the defensive side of the ball, has given way to what looks almost like acceptance of the inevitable.

Though Kentucky’s late fall swoon is disheartening, it actually should have been fairly predictable to all but the most wide-eyed optimists of the Kentucky fan base. Saturday’s horror show at Neyland Stadium was Kentucky’s eighth game in as many weeks.  Of those eight consecutive games, seven were against Southeastern Conference opponents. Kentucky simply does not possess adequate depth on the roster to forge through that type of meat grinder at this stage of Mark Stoops’ rebuild.  Thus, faced with the rigors of physical SEC football for all those weeks, players began to drop.  Crucial players like Blake McClain, Za’Darius Smith, Fred Tiller, Reggie Meant and others missed time with nagging injuries.  Others were banged up and limited, but persevered.  Mark Stoops is not an excuse maker, and would tell you that a football team has to find a way to compete regardless of the natural attrition inherent in the game.  But at some point, particularly in the early stages of building a program in an unforgiving league, there is a harsh reality to face.  It  takes Kentucky’s absolute best shot to compete.  That best shot, at this stage of the program, is a virtual impossibility after eight straight weeks of big boy football.

Even Mark Stoops acknowledged Wednesday at his media availability just how needed the off time is for the Cats from both a physical and emotional standpoint. Stoops stated that he gave the players Sunday and Monday off to simply “decompress” and avoid thinking about an opponent for a few days.  In other words, he gave them a break from mental reps as well as physical ones.  I think this is another indication of Stoops simply getting it. Kentucky’s regular season finale at the House that Papa John and Crown Royal Built is obviously an enormous game.  Not only is it Kentucky’s most heated rivalry, but it is also a game with significant ramifications as Kentucky’s potential sixth win.  In a move that surprised me a little for its candor, Stoops talked extensively Wednesday about how important that sixth win would be for the program. (Extra practice time, etc.) So he obviously wants it badly. With that said, Stoops is savvy enough as a coach to know that he needs to loosen the reigns on occasion rather than to always grind, especially with a roster on the verge of exhaustion.

Following its one previous bye week, Kentucky’s defense was dominant in a home match up with Vanderbilt.  In a game that seems like it took place years rather than weeks ago, the Cats gave up only 139 total yards and zero offensive points while intercepting three passes and repeatedly causing havoc in the Vanderbilt offensive backfield.  Of course, some of that has to do with the fact that Vanderbilt is truly terrible.  Still, there is no question that Kentucky’s defense had a different speed and bravado at that point in the season.  They were healthy and rested, and what limited depth they have was available to them on that date.  It will be interesting to see if this week’s bye has a similar impact on the Cats going into the Louisville game.

To have any chance against the dirty birds on Thanksgiving weekend, Kentucky needs to get its core group of players healthy.  Wednesday, Stoops indicated that he believed that the Cats might get everyone, with the possible exception of Offensive Tackle Kyle Meadows, back in action for the season finale.  But simply having the complete roster available to take the field won’t mean anything.  Stoops must find a way in this bye week to get the Cats their mojo back. The Cats need to remember the feeling of dancing to “Bad Boys” rather than playing like a bad defense. If  the Cats can regroup, there is still much to play for.  A win against Louisville, marking the sixth win of the season and securing a bowl berth, would make Cat fans forget the lean times of late October and November.  Here’s hoping a week of rest will bank sufficient energy to turn back the clock on the Cats’ performance, and we’ll see the Cats of September once again.

 

 


Mark Zerof/USA Today

A Win Over the Red and White is a Win for Kentucky’s Redshirts

Mark Zerof/USA Today

Mark Zerof/USA Today

Less than ten days away from the final football game of the year, Mark Stoops’ second season as Kentucky’s head football coach will come to an end at Louisville, against the man who handed him his first loss as a head football coach, Bobby Petrino.  After a 5-1 start, the Cats have lost momentum during a 5-game losing streak.  But Stoops could salvage the season with a bowl birth on their biggest rivals’ home turf.

Beating Louisville would give you the upper hand in trash-talking.  It would give you an excuse to make a December road trip for a bowl game.  It would give the Cats a recruiting advantage around the state.  Beating Louisville wouldn’t ruin the Redbirds’ season, but more importantly, it would  give the Cats’ redshirts a leg-up as they look ahead to 2015.

“That’s why it’s important — there’s no denying that it’s real important — to get that sixth victory so you get out and start working with them (the redshirts) more during the practice time for a bowl game if we can get this sixth win,” Stoops said yesterday.

It’d be fun to rub a football victory in Cardinal fans’ faces, but 30 days later most will be forgotten when the Cats and Cards play in the Yum! Center.  The bowl game trip might not be glamorous in Biloxi, Ms., and the Cats already have a nice recruiting edge over the Cards in Kentucky.  The best benefit is the one the BBN can’t see from the outside but makes a world of difference inside the program.

“Basically it’s like another spring practice, or at least part of one,” Stoops said.  “You really take a good portion of those practices and work with the young guys.”

Many of the guys redshirting now will have to fill holes in the depth chart immediately.  Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith’s important positions will be vacant.  Darrian Miller has been consistent at left tackle – the most important pass protector on the offensive line – but will be graduating.  Production at tight end has been virtually non-existent, but will play an important part of Brown’s offense in the future.  The extra practice time will allow the coaches a head start on figuring out who are the best candidates to step in and play right away.

Here’s a rundown of who has performed the best, according to Stoops, Brown and a few players too.

Nico Firios 

The consensus from all is that Nico is one mean man.  I asked at Media Days what the BBN should expect to see him when he hits the field:

“You’re going to see me flying around to the ball.  I bring a lot of speed to the game.  When I strap up, I’m trying to hit somebody.  So you’re going to see me hit somebody.”

The first words Brown used to describe Nico were “flies around.”  He’s the most disruptive player on the scout team.  Everyday he attacks practice at 100 miles an hour, to the point where coaches will sometimes have to tell him to tone it down.  He’s a mustache-less and more athletic Jeff Snedegar, adorning a mohawk instead.  He’s what I like to call the Scout Team All-American: a nuisance to starters because if they aren’t going 100%, he’ll make them look stupid.  What the Cats have lacked in physicality at linebacker this year will not be a problem with Firios next year.

Bunchy Stallings

Every offensive lineman in the Class of 2014 is redshirting this year.  Brown likes what he sees from all of them, but Bunchy has set himself apart.  The center looks the part, but his greatest assets are his footwork and his family’s background.  His father and brothers played college ball and got a taste of the NFL, offering helpful tips and guidance as he grows as a student-athlete.  Bunchy’s a smart one too, necessary for the center position, the quarterback of the offensive line.

Darryl Long

People around the program have marveled at how much the tight end’s body has transformed in a few short months.  Standing near 6’5″, he’s been one of Bud Dupree’s most difficult matchups in pass coverage.

Denzil Ware

One of the highest-rated recruits in the class has not disappointed in practice.  Ware’s play has been good enough that we should not have to worry too much about the departures at defensive end.

“I think he’s got what it takes to be an edge rusher in this league, especially in the three-down front stuff that we’re doing.  I like his demeanor.  He’s got a good burst.  He’s getting better going against our two tackles.” – Neal Brown

Jared Tucker

The cornerbacks have been better than last year, but they still manage to make the BBN collectively pull their hair out at least once a game.  Tucker is a lengthy 5’11” corner that has displayed excellent ball skills in practice.  Every week he is designated as the opponents’ best corner, charged with shutting down the Cats #1 outside WR.

 


Ryn is spending the week

A Week to Regroup Before the Finale

Rob Foldy/Getty

Rob Foldy/Getty

Bye Weeks are great.  They’re much-needed after eight consecutive weeks of football.  People are physically getting healthier, but it’s just as important to mentally decompress.  Here’s how some of the players and coaches are spending their Bye Week.

-  Neal Brown watched EVERY single offensive snap of the season.  It couldn’t have been quick and it probably wasn’t the prettiest film, but it could be the problem-solver for the inconsistent offense.  By examining different personnel groups with different formations, Brown should know exactly who he needs to get the ball to most.  “[We’re]  Identifying some problems that have been consistent and going about fixing some things.”

-  Javess Blue got his guys together for an extra meeting.  The team was given an extra day off to not think about football, but Javess Blue and some other leaders weren’t going to completely set football aside.  He never explicitly said that he was one of the guys that led one of the few players-only meetings, but he seemed confident it’ll be the much-needed final week boost to “make some changes.”

-  Stoops is catching his breath.  A great time for some re-evaluation, Stoops hasn’t let his coaches get too much rest, laboriously watching film since the end of the Tennessee game.  But the Bye came at the perfect time, needing a chance to decompress, “It’s on to the next opponent, and it’s a full grind.  That gets taxing on everybody.”

-  Bud Dupree got the chance to lay down.  “It felt good.”  You’re damn right it did.  At this point in the year, it doesn’t matter how many muscles he has, Bud’s bod needed the break, “The body feels horrible.  You wake up in the morning sometimes and you don’t want to get out of bed…..it feels like you’ve been hit by a truck sometimes.”

-  DJ Eliot pressed the restart button on fundamentals.  Without game prep to get in the way, the Cats have truly gone back to the basics.  “It seems like we’re starting over,” is how Bud described it.


Extensions are “in place” for Stoops’ assistants

stoopsbrown

Mark Stoops confirmed today that he still plans to restructure the contracts of his assistant coaches this offseason. When Stoops signed his extension three weeks ago, he said he and UK were in talks about extensions for his staff. Today, he told reporters after practice that those talks are ongoing and new deals will be signed after the season.

More from practice soon…


Stoops opens up about the slide and year two struggles

Stoops awesome practice pic

One of the most unfortunate things about the football team’s recent slide is that it’s caused most fans to shift their focus to basketball completely. Given last night’s incredible performance, that may have been unavoidable, but the football Cats still have one last chance to become bowl eligible against Louisville next weekend. On today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, Mark Stoops admitted that five straight losses (the latter two in a humiliating manner) may have morale low at the Nutter Training Center, but he’s not giving up on his quest to turn the Kentucky football program into a serious SEC contender. He even borrowed John Calipari’s “magic wand” analogy:

“I think it is a challenge to yourself sometimes, because nobody likes losing. I said it several times since I’ve been here; I’ll say it again: I knew what I was getting into. You don’t take a job like this and just think – you don’t just wave a magic wand and walk in here and turn it overnight. It doesn’t happen. You have to put the time in.”

By now, we are all familiar with “the process,” but UK’s 5-1 start gave fans a shot of hope that has fallen flat in recent weeks. Stoops said that despite the early success this year, his team still has a long ways to go:

“But it’s still difficult to go through, because everybody says that on the front end. Everybody says, ‘We know it’s going to take time. You’re going to have time and you need that time.’ I’m talk everybody: fans, boosters, the whole deal. And then here you are in Year 2 and that feels like a long time to people. But to build an SEC-quality football program, sometimes it takes more than that. And that’s not an excuse; it’s just the truth. People in this league have been doing things right for a long, long, long time, and we’re trying to do that here at Kentucky, and we will do that. We’ll continue to put our head down and work toward a program that we’re all proud of.”

Perspective can be a tricky virtue in the SEC.


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Let’s Talk a Little UK-UL Football

It’s amazing the think but the modern UK-UL series is quickly approaching it’s 20th anniversary, and in that time there have been some real classic games.  Both schools have wins that their fans will forever remember, but when it comes to my favorite game in the series, it is actually the first one held on enemy turf: the opening of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 1998.  It was an incredibly hot day in the state that day, but no one was hotter than Tim Couch, who threw for an unofficial 829 yards and 14 touchdowns.  While those stats might not be official, the final score was:

Kentucky 68, Louisville 34

68 points.  On your chief rival’s opening of their brand new field.  Louisville might be able to say they hold an advantage in the overall series.  But I do think it is cool to FOREVER be able to claim to have won the first ever game on their home turf.  And not just win the game, but win the game by 34 points.  And absolutely run it up on them, like you should do on a rival.  I am not sure the Air Raid offense under Mumme ever worked better than it did that day, but there is no doubt that it was the sweetest win of the Mumme era.  And that includes beating Alabama in my opinion.  So, that is my favorite UK-UL win, what it yours?


Bud Dupree is going to the Senior Bowl

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

Darrell Bird | CatsPause.com

The Reese’s Senior Bowl announced 14 accepted invites today, including one Bud Dupree from your University of Kentucky Wildcats. Dupree is one of five players from the Southeastern Conference to accept an invitation to the game.

Bud Dupree | OLB | Kentucky: “All-SEC second team last year; has combination of size and speed, recording 68 tackles (10.5 for loss) and 6.5 sacks through 11 games this season.”

Congrats to Bud on the well-deserved honor.


Jim Biever, Packers.com

Cats in the NFL: Week 11

 

Jim Biever, Packers.com

Jim Biever, Packers.com

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

— The Packers cruised past the Philadelphia Eagles 53-30 on Sunday Night Football

— Cobb was 10-13 for 129 yards and snapped his six-game touchdown streak

— This is only the second game that Cobb has not seen the endzone

Stevie Johnson, San Francisco 49ers

— The 49ers barely escaped the New York Giants with a 16-10 win

— Stevie had one reception for eight yards

Tim Masthay, Green Bay Packers

— Masthay punted once for 40 yards in Green Bay’s win over the Eagles

Corey Peters, Atlanta Falcons

— The Flacons19-17 win over the Carolina Panthers landed them in the No. 1 spot in the NFC South

— Peters had one solo tackle in the win

Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos

— The St. Louis Rams shocked the nation as they defeated the Broncos 22-7

— Tamme had four receptions for 31 yards

Larry Warford, Detroit Lions

— The Lions will not clarify on the exact injury on Warford’s knee but they have high hopes he will return by the end of the season

“It could be much worse,” Warford said. “I’m just trying to get in the training room and get back as quick as possible, and that’s all I can do.”

Avery Williamson & Wesley Woodyard, Tennessee Titans

— Catch Avery and Wesley in action tonight on ESPN at 8:30 as they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers


Kickoff for UK-Louisville set for… TBD

Fans anxiously awaiting today’s announcement of the Governor’s Cup kickoff time will have to wait another five or six days to hear the news. The game is “on hold” and it’s start time won’t be announced until after this coming Saturday’s games. It could be late Saturday night, Sunday or even Monday before kickoff is announced.

How inconvenient.


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Monday Morning Playcalling Breakdown (Tennessee)

Every Monday I will detail with little commentary how the offense generated yards after each game.  I will break it down into 1st down, 2nd and long, 2nd and short, 3rd and long, and 3rd and short situations and tell you how many passes and runs were called in each situation, along with the success or failure of those situations.  And then you have the opportunity to discuss how you thought the So without further ado, here were the stats for the Tennessee game:

1ST DOWN
Run: 16 rushes for 65 yards (4.1 ypc), 1 TD
Pass: 8-11, 60 yards, 1 sack for -6 yards

Limited Analysis: Cats actually experienced some success on 1st down but was really hit or miss most of the game.  Had several big plays for 10+ but also had 4 negative plays and several more for 2 yards or less.  Consistency was better than in past weeks but still not up to snuff.

Season Totals
Run: 173 rushes for 894 yards (5.2 ypc), 6 TD
Pass: 93-155, 1112 yards, 3 TD, 4 INT, 7 sacks for -41 yards

2ND AND LONG (6 yards or more)
Run: 11 rushes for 35 yards (3.2 ypc)
Pass: 2-10, 69 yards, 1 INT (returned for a TD)

Limited Analysis: Towles hit Blue for back to back completions in the 2nd quarter that accounted for the entire passing game.  Otherwise, just a pathetic group of plays.

Season Totals
Run: 84 rushes for 498 yards (5.9 ypc), 2 TD
Pass: 46-94, 653 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 4 sacks for -32 yards

2ND AND SHORT (5 yards or less)
Run: No Rushes Attempted
Pass: No Passes Attempted

Limited Analysis: Just consider that fact.  UK ran 21 plays on 2nd down against Tennessee and NONE of them were in a 2nd and 5 or less situation.

Season Totals
Run: 50 rushes for 287 yards (5.7 ypc), 6 TD
Pass: 15-19, 157 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks for -17 yards

3RD AND LONG (6 yards or more)
Run: 2 rushes for 19 yards (9.5 ypc)
Pass: 3-7, 39 yards, 1 INT, 3 sacks for -12 yards

Limited Analysis: I really battle to find the positives in these stats but really there is nothing to say.  Cats only converted 3 of these 3rd downs.  The sacks are particularly concerning as well.

Season Totals
Run: 16 rushes for 74 yards (4.6 ypc)
Pass: 44-77, 516 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT, 12 sacks for -78 yards, 2 fumbles lost

3RD AND SHORT (5 yards or less)
Run: No rushes attempted
Pass: 0-1, 1 sack for -6 yards

Limited Analysis: Overall on 3rd down, Cats gave up a sack on 4 of 12 passing plays.

Season Totals
Run: 38 rushes for 149 yards (3.9 ypc), 3 TD
Pass: 10-20, 110 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 4 sacks for -26 yards


Why We Should Legalize Sports Gambling

college-football-odds-lines

Every family, I suppose, boasts a relative shrouded in mystery, an enigmatic figure whose myth grows in time as memories fade and tales get taller.

For me, it’s my great-grandfather, A. Morgan Frumberg, a prominent St. Louis and Chicago attorney in the early 20th century.  It was long family lore that Frumberg had some tangential connection to the nascent Jewish Mafia, and perhaps even a supporting role in the infamous Black Sox Scandal, in which mobster Arnold Rothstein fixed the 1919 World Series. (Rothstein, a prominent real-life character on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, was most famously memorialized as the fictional Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby.)

Alas, when the book Eight Men Out was released, the fanciful fable of my childhood was semi-confirmed:  It turns out that Great-Grandpa served as counsel to several of the lower-level gamblers who took the fall for the scheme, while Rothstein skated free, much to Frumberg’s fury.  That knowledge brought me the same kind of brush-with-celebrity perverse pride that I imagine enjoying if my son dated a Kardashian.  (Thank God I only have daughters.)

The Black Sox Scandal likely was professional sport’s lowest moment, saved only by the meteoric popularity of Babe Ruth and a new anti-gambling regime imposed by Baseball’s first Commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.  The autocratic Commish issued a lifetime ban to the eight Chicago White Sox players involved in the fix.

Since then, sports wagering has always been targeted with special contempt by the powers that govern athletics on both the college and professional levels.  The athletes in the middle have paid a steep price.  The celebrated Adolph Rupp teams of the 1940s were rocked by a point-shaving scandal that shattered the careers of the young players involved.  In the late 1970s, another point-shaving conspiracy — this one orchestrated by Goodfellas‘ Henry Hill — destroyed the lives of Boston College cagers caught up in the controversy.  And, of course, Pete Rose became illegal betting’s poster boy when he was banned for life from baseball for betting on his own team. (Stay tuned for a future column on why Charlie Hustle deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.)

Accordingly, it was remarkable this week when new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the legalization of sports gambling.  Breaking with a century-long tradition of his predecessors, who’ve often viewed the practice as public enemy number one, Silver wrote that “Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.”

Silver is right.  It’s time to legalize and regulate sports gambling.  As the mobsters whose paths my great-grandfather crossed could testify, prohibition doesn’t work.  And driving “undesirable” behavior underground generally serves to make matters far worse.

===

Let me pause for an admission: I’m a sports gambler.  No, I’ve never engaged a bookie, and my time spent in Vegas is at the poker table, not the sports book.  But for more than two decades, I’ve “played” in fantasy baseball leagues (and more recently, football) in which I put down money for the chance to win more, dependent on the players’ statistics. What began as a collection of friend and family affairs has now emerged as a huge industry, and in some cases, much more professionalized via same-day and one-week online fantasy leagues (with companies like FanDuel and DraftKings, who seem to have bought all of ESPN’s ad time).  Fortunately, for those of us addicts, Congress exempted fantasy from legislative bans on online wagering.

However, the American appetite for clearly unlawful sports wagering has not wavered.  Some estimate the illegal sports gambling business to exceed $400 billion a year.

Cue the faux surprise of Captain Renault in Casablanca: “I’m shocked, shocked to find out that gambling is going on here.”  Indeed, our nation’s Keystone Kops enforcement of anti-wagering statutes makes the War on Drugs look like an expertly effective effort.

But while we can laugh at the absurdity of our laws and turn our heads away from the behavior that few still find immoral, many serious real-world problems result from the status quo.  It doesn’t take more than a couple episodes of The Sopranos to understand how gambling’s illegality forces it into the shadows, denying appropriate public protection, and empowering and enriching the underworld, as thugs administer “justice” through usurious loans and violent collections. As those of us who played on-line poker in the early days can testify, cheating is rampant when the game is unlawful; and there’s little resource for gamblers who find themselves the victim of fraudulent arrangements.

Just as our policymakers often treat sex with a public farce of Victorian morality that shields a private culture of consensual, sometimes flawed, human behavior, the hypocritical treatment of gambling creates a serious public policy problem where none would otherwise exist.

So let’s listen to Silver and establish a federal structure that permits sports wagering under the strict eye of law enforcement officials, as opposed to organized crime.  Congress should immediately repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 which prohibits states from permitting sports wagering.  And a new regulatory regime should be imposed that would include the following suggestions made by Silver and others:

  • The use of new geo-blocking and age-verification technology to ensure that sports wagering is conducted only in places where it is legal, and only by adults;
  • The development of strict licensing procedures and the monitoring of especially large and unusual betting practices in order to protect the integrity of gambling operations and crack down on cheating;
  • Educational programs that foster responsible gambling, complimented by protocol that can identify problem gamblers and prevent them from incurring further debt; and
  • New professional and college sports rules that recognize the existence of gambling while shielding athletes from improper involvement.

Now before you haters start hating in the comments below, I readily agree that thousands of lives every year are ruined by compulsive gambling and its collateral damage.   But that’s precisely why sports wagering must be legalized and regulated.  Sunlight is always the best disinfectant; and only when we take the practice out of the shadows and monitor it closely can we protect those who are at risk.

I bet my great-grandfather would be pleased to know that the Jewish Mafia is out of business.  So in his spirit, let’s kneecap today’s organized criminals and take away this virtual tire iron they hold over the vulnerable.


Muschamp Out at Florida


will-muschamp-pissed-off-gif

Well who didn’t see this coming?  University of Florida officials announced today that Will Muschamp will be stepping down as head coach following the final game this season.  Muschamp has failed to bring the results that Florida fans expect year-in and year-out.  Surprisingly enough, they upset Georgia just two weeks ago, which some thought could save him for another season.

“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be. I’ve always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement.

Overall, Muschamp is 27-20 in his four seasons at Florida, 17-15 in the SEC.

“I was given every opportunity to get it done here and I simply didn’t win enough games — that is the bottom line,” Muschamp said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it done and it is my responsibility to get it done. I have no bitter feelings, but this is a business and I wish we would have produced better results on the field.”

Did Kentucky miss their chance to beat Florida this season?  Or will this increase our chances for next year?