Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Good Loser

Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser. - Vince Lombardi

  The Iowa State Cyclones are in the midst of another terrible football season. After beating the subdivision Northern Iowa Panthers, the Cyclones lost 31-17 at home to the ranked Iowa Hawkeyes and suffered a close overtime loss in Ohio to the ranked Toledo Rockets. The Cyclones then opened their Big 12 (which only has 10 teams) conference schedule with a win for their first time in years by pasting the still winless Kansas Jayhawks 38-13.

  Since that win over mighty Kansas, the Cyclones have lost three straight games to teams from Texas: 66-31 to 5-3 Texas Tech on the road, 45-21 to unbeaten TCU at home, and 45-27 to unbeaten Baylor at Waco, Texas. Much is being made about the Cyclones good showing against unbeaten TCU and Baylor. The Cyclones were leading TCU 21-14 after the first quarter and were the first team to keep Baylor from scoring 50 points and even prevented them from scoring in a quarter for only the third time all year. The Cyclones scored with less than 8 minutes left to make the score 35-20. Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said (Here is the game article) “We had an opportunity to get an onside kick and pull this game within seven and put ourselves in a position to compete to win”. I understand that the head coach is required to find positives in almost every situation but after having watched the first half of the game and listened to the second half on the radio I never got the feeling that the Cyclones were close to winning, It seemed to me that the Baylor Bears fell asleep in the third quarter before waking up and putting the game away.

  I’ve never been very impressed with ‘good loss’ jargon spit out by losing coaches or players. Rhoads’ quote makes it sound like if the Cyclones had only recovered the onside kick they would have been down by seven points BUT even if they had recovered the kick they would have needed to get a touchdown AND then they would have needed to get the two point conversion AND then they would have needed to get the ball back AND then they would have needed to get another touchdown AND then they would have been in a tie game and competing for a win. If they hadn’t fallen behind 35-7 at halftime maybe they wouldn’t have needed all those onside kicks, defensive stands, touchdowns, and two point conversions to be in a position to compete for a win. If my memory serves me correctly, the Cyclones were in a tie game when the game started – that may have been the time to compete for a win.

  There is talk that Rhoads is on the hot seat with the prospect of a third consecutive losing season looming large over the Cyclone program. I am not so sure since Rhoads’ contract runs through 2021 and the attendance at the newly expanded Jack Trice stadium has been over 50,000 per game. In the aftermath of the Baylor game, Rhoads has parted ways with offensive coordinator Mark Mangino and named sophomore Joel Lanning the new starting quarterback based on his three touchdown performance against Baylor in relief of deposed quarterback Sam Richardson. I don’t know why Mangino was let go but the move to the new quarterback will likely stir up hope in the team and fan base that Lanning will be able to spark a turnaround of a so far lackluster season. Three years ago the 5-5 Cyclones got a boost when a sophomore quarterback took over for then starter Steele Jantz and threw for four touchdowns in a 51-23 Cyclone win against the Kansas Jayhawks. That quarterback was Sam Richardson – the same Sam Richardson that was demoted in favor of Joel Lanning this week.

  With the surprisingly weak Kansas State Wildcats and West Virginia Mountaineers still on the schedule the Cyclones have a chance to get to four wins and provide hope for the future but I have no hope that the Cyclones will be anything but mediocre at best under Coach Rhoads. He had three .500 or close seasons when he had the players from the previous coaching staff but has proven that he cannot recruit or develop players that are able to compete in the Big 12 conference. As long as the stadium remains full I see no reason a coaching change will be made and the losing will continue. Rhoads is a loser but a good loser who manages to pull off an occasional stunning upset and promote young quarterbacks to provide hope in hopeless season after hopeless season.

  I promise not to be a good loser in my NBA basketball predictions and hopefully I will start the season on a big winning streak so I don't have to choose what kind of loser I'm going to be. I was going to make my predictions on Fridays but tonight's games look too good to pass up. I'm banking my mythical winnings from last season and will start the 2015-2016 season with a fresh slate just like the teams I will be 'wagering' on. I will be placing my mythical bets using the lines as listed on the Yahoo Sports page and as usual for entertainment purposes only with no real money being wagered.

Memphis Grizzlies at Indiana Pacers
Both teams played last night. The Grizzlies were horrendous in getting blown out by the Cavaliers in their home opener while the Pacers let a close road game against the Raptor get away in the final minute. The Grizzlies superior depth and embarrassment after last night's disaster will help them spoil the Pacers home opener in this match up of two teams on the end of back to back games so I will wager $110 on the Grizzlies to win $100, and give 2.5 points to the Pacers.

Altanta Hawks at New York Knicks
The Hawks lost their home opener against the Pistons on Tuesday while the Knicks blew out the Bucks in an impressive season opener on the road last night. The Hawks frontcourt will have their way against a Knicks team playing on the second game of a back to back. I will take the Hawks and give the 4 points to the Knicks to the tune of $110 to win $100.

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers
This is another matchup of teams that playing their second game in two nights. The Mavericks had 8 players score in double figures in a road blowout against Phoenix last night while the Clippers hung on for a tough win at Sacramento. Even though the Mavericks were able to rest their aging players in yesterday's blowout I believe the Clippers will be energized for their home opener and blow the Mavs out of the building so I will give the 11 points and take the Clippers for $110 to win $100.

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