College Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network
Thinking Out Loud: Can’t fault RI prep football star Kwity Paye for spurning BC to attend Michigan 10.28.16 at 5:49 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Can’t fault RI prep football star Kwity Paye for spurning BC to attend Michigan

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering how many dead people I’ll see at the polls Nov. 8.

— The power of branding, networking, 100K (or more) rabid football fans per game, and winning — Bishop Hendricken defensive end Kwity Paye made news this week by choosing Michigan as his college football destination, after initially opting verbally for Boston College.

— Way better news on the youth football front than a 19-year-old “man” suiting up to play against 13- and 14-year-old kids, don’t you think?

— That Paye chose Big Blue over Big Irrelevant isn’t really the surprise, considering the current respective fortunes of each program.

— Not for nuthin’, but Michigan currently is ranked No. 2 in the country, while the Eagles haven’t won an ACC game in two seasons.

— Paye is following a coach who initially recruited him, Don Brown (a former coach at Brown, Northeastern, UMass and UConn), who was at BC for the past three years and now is in Ann Arbor. Kids play for coaches, not the school. The education part, sadly, means little. But in this case, Michigan is no educational slouch.

— Rhode Island high school football has placed an athlete with a Top 25 college program two straight years now, with former Mount Pleasant star Joseph Putu signing a year ago out of junior college with Florida.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: NFL’s bias against Patriots tough to overlook 10.21.16 at 5:46 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: NFL’s bias against Patriots tough to overlook

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering why you care who Tom Brady votes for?

— The very fact that Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict received “only” a $75K fine from the NFL this week for his stomping of Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount this past Sunday — and nothing for his low blow on Martellus Bennett — should tell you all you need to know about how the league still feels about the Patriots.

— Suck it up, boys. Bend over, grab your ankles. Thank you sir, may I have another?

— Considering Burfict’s track record as a dirty player, considering his three-game suspension earlier THIS season for on-field safety violations, what more needs to happen here before justice actually prevails?

— Two things: One, the NFL needs to grow a pair and start doing things that make sense. But it won’t. It can’t. It’s the NFL’s world, and we’re just living in it. Two, someone will actually have to be decapitated, live, on the field. And even then, that might not do it.

— You know how I love a good conspiracy? I truly believe the league “likes” (or allows and looks the other way) behavior like this in some instances, in order to stir up controversy and interest. After all, ratings are down — 11 percent across the board from this time last year — and WAY down for the Thursday-Sunday-Monday night games.

— And therein lies at least part of the problem, methinks, behind the decrease in fan interest and/or ratings. Some are tired of the boorish behavior. Some are tired of controversy. Some are tired of the two-faced, speaking-from-both-sides-of-the-mouth, uneven, heavy-handed attitude shown by the NFL.

— Some also are tired of the proliferation of the sport on television, now working its way into the Twitterverse on Thursday nights, too.

— Not for nuthin’, but hardcore fans still are watching. Casual fans? Not so much, many turned off by the off-the-field headlines being made. The sideline protests against the national anthem, for example, have turned off many despite NFL beliefs to the contrary. And the current presidential election cycle has been more like watching WWE Raw, pulling away some potential football audience for the circus that has been Clinton-Trump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Providence gearing up to prove Big East coaches wrong 10.14.16 at 5:43 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Providence gearing up to prove Big East coaches wrong

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Herschel Walker.

— With Midnight Madness/Late Night Madness largely a thing of the past for true college hoop aficionados, conference media days now signal the true start to a season. Or at least, the start of the college game’s PR push against the NFL and NBA — especially around here.

— Not for nuthin’, but I miss the days (years?) when fans could be treated to the latest information, hear from the coaches and guest speakers, and actually watch the team PRACTICE on the floor to start the season. Does any school still do this?

— Nowadays — and not that this is bad, or anything — it’s just for the kids. The on-floor show is for students only. And that’s fine and all, but don’t schools still need to appease their alumni and season-ticket holders?

— Especially in the day and age of personal seat licensing, increased ticket prices and late(r) start times due to television. I’m no marketing genius, but if I need to raise money and increase awareness and attendance, I’m throwing a bone in the direction of my longtime fans and alumni, especially those who have a tendency to gripe about these things. Just sayin’.

— Now, get off my lawn! Please?

— Not surprised in the least with Providence being picked for ninth at the Big East media day in New York this week. The only issue I have is, St. John’s was eighth?

— Listen, the coaches doing the voting aren’t stupid. But the preseason polls mean squat. The Johnnies have talented newcomers, but this league tends to eat its young. Don’t these guys know this? SJU will have an extraordinary team if the Red Storm finish AHEAD of PC.

— That is, primarily, because Providence returns four players with starting experience. But you lose the two big dogs (Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil), the assumption is there for a step back. But you know what happens when you assume, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Should we have seen Patriots’ letdown vs. Bills coming? 10.07.16 at 5:40 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Should we have seen Patriots’ letdown vs. Bills coming?

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Bernie Kosar.

— We should have been reading the tea leaves. Or, at the least, we should have been reading between the lines of last week’s buildup to Buffalo. The Patriots were due for a letdown against the Bills, but no one wanted to admit it was even possible. It was.

— This isn’t revisionist history as much as it is finding clues or signs within a single chapter of the 2016 NFL season. The Patriots played with very little emotion against the Bills, almost as if they were waiting for something — or someone — to join them. Just sayin’.

— Could they have possibly just thought “Let’s bag this, and protect ourselves for the long haul?” There is precedent for this theory, and all you have to do is look back at the end of last season to find it (Miami, hello). It didn’t work well there, either. But last year’s team at that time was far too beat-up to matter.

— The Bills had the proper game plan, but it wasn’t a world-beater. The Patriots simply didn’t adjust to it, as if they accepted their fate with the realization that TB12 returns in a week and there’s still three-quarters of the season to play.

— Rex Ryan knew he escaped with one in Foxboro, and probably knew he escaped with his professional life intact. Ryan needed that win much, much more than did New England. His team was able to shut out a rookie, third-string QB. Attaboy Rex, and we still have you to kick around in the AFC East. Life is still good.

— At least, it should be good for Patriots fans, because Tom Brady is back. That’s what we’ve all been waiting for — and that includes his teammates. Like they were last week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Red Sox’ AL East title celebration an embarrassment 09.30.16 at 5:44 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Red Sox’ AL East title celebration an embarrassment

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering how Arnold Palmer actually came up with the idea for an Arnold Palmer.

— I am not one for wild celebrations when it comes to winning championships. Always have preferred the “Been there, done that” philosophy of carrying yourself like a champion should — with grace, maturity and some modicum of sportsmanship. And I’ve never been more convinced of this after watching the Red Sox flop their way into one of the most awkward, ill-placed, ill-timed victory celebrations I’ve ever seen.

— Do the Sox deserve to celebrate winning the AL East? Of course they do. After two last-place finishes in a row since their last one, I’d ask: What took you so long?

— But does that give you the right to appear as if you’ve been unleashed from the La Brea Tar Pits, replete with foul language bombs going off every 10 seconds during an amateurish, ungraceful and coerced locker room celebration after getting walked-off by the New York Yankees on Wednesday night?

— “Hey, at least they won. Better than the alternative,” says the overwhelming majority of Red Sox Nation. Fine, I certainly can accept that. But personally, it’s embarrassing. Having had the chance to be in a few locker rooms where champagne with beer chasers were wild and plentiful, none of those moments compared to the unbridled, ill-mannered exhibition witnessed Wednesday night by a regional/national audience.

— NESN is just as bad as the players, in terms of the lack of class and decorum the network happily allowed to be displayed. I’m all for celebrating titles, but try to stay classy Boston, will ya? You just had your butts beaten, by your arch rivals. Families with kids watch this, you know. No need to resort to Cro-Magnon-like behavior. We’ve advanced as a species — I think — over the past few centuries, haven’t we?

— Maybe I should lighten up. It’s all in fun. But maybe we all should continue to subscribe to the “dumbing down of America” we’re witnessing every day during this election period, too? Does anyone care about raising our collective level of intelligence and decorum around here?

— Not for nuthin’, but it’s as if our brains and our common sense have begun a slow, spiraling descent into various forms of lawlessness and disorder, all melting into a giant cesspool of greed, avarice and feeble simplemindedness. Pardon me, pass the pabulum.

— And speaking to that, the pitching meltdown displayed by alleged closer Craig Kimbrel and fellow reliever Joe Kelly on Wednesday night was a perfect example of precisely why I don’t believe this team has the legs to win it all. Or the arms, either.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Bill Belichick offers further proof of his supremacy 09.23.16 at 5:44 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Bill Belichick offers further proof of his supremacy

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Mikey, and does he still like it?

— Lou Merloni tweeted this week: Would the Sox get more attention if Brady weren’t suspended? Maybe, but hey, Lou? Would the Sox get more attention if they weren’t up against the Patriots playing?

— Or if most MLB games didn’t last more than three hours? Or if the season were shorter? Or if players stayed in the batter’s box? Or if pitchers stopped scratching and adjusting themselves before pitches? Or if the sport actually allowed home plate or basepath collisions to happen again? Just sayin’.

— We now resume our regularly scheduled football discussion. Find me on Twitter under the hashtags #killeverybodytour and #scorchedearthtour.

— What did we witness Thursday night? Two things, the way I see it. One, if there was ever any doubt that Bill Belichick is one of the best to have ever plied his trade (I’m looking at you, Steve in Fall River), it has been snuffed out. Or, you’re just ignorant (again, straight at ya, Steve).

— Two, Houston, you still have a problem. Turtling in big games won’t earn you any more respect than those letter jackets you wore a couple of years ago.

— I love Thursday night games. And I hate them, too. I’ll wager if you polled NFL players on “love or hate,” hate would conquer overall. Part of that is, of course, the short recovery time they get after a Sunday beatdown.

— Chris Gasper of The Boston Globe wrote an excellent piece this week on the double standard the league has with instituting new injury prevention rules and making $$$ on Thursday nights. All you need to know is if the league really cared about its on-field employees’ health and well-being, they’d do away with TNF. Spot-on stuff.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Ortiz, Jimmy Garoppolo,
Thinking Out Loud: Despite Jimmy Garoppolo’s impressive debut, let’s keep Tom Brady around 09.16.16 at 5:42 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Despite Jimmy Garoppolo’s impressive debut, let’s keep Tom Brady around

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering whatever happened to Craig James.

— For all of the angst over Tom Brady’s NFL suspension, most of it dissipated like squeezing air out of a balloon as Jimmy Garoppolo’s Arizona desert debut unfolded. Now I’m hearing fans say, “Trade Brady!” What is wrong with you people?

— I’ll pony up here: After watching Jimmy G. during camp this summer, it’s clear he’s learned while performing as TB12’s understudy. Plus, Josh McDaniels hasn’t given him anything he can’t handle — yet. He should do the same this week against Miami.

— Most impressive against the Cardinals was his ability to stand in the pocket. Haven’t really seen that yet from him, but the early returns are positive. And he still hasn’t played with Gronk opening up a defense for him.

— He could have handled TB12’s face staring over his shoulder from that banner at Gillette, too. Make no mistake about that. If you’re focused on a banner, then you aren’t focused on your job. Ridiculous. But a good call, nevertheless, by the Patriots for taking it down. We’re on to the next one.

— New England now is playing with house money. Did anyone really figure the Patriots would win at Arizona? You hoped, but you didn’t know. Anything short of 4-0 during the TB12-less portion of the schedule will be considered disappointing, right? Be careful with that one.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: If Patriots beat Cardinals, can anyone stop them? 09.09.16 at 5:46 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: If Patriots beat Cardinals, can anyone stop them?

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering whatever happened to that Tiger Woods guy.

— So, it’s finally here. The NFL season kickoff is upon us, and for the next 20-plus weeks our Sundays will be busy. Time to put the honey-do lists away — and brace for the full-court pressure that will be applied to your Saturdays. Honey-dos get kicked up to Saturday.

— A couple of things came to mind this week as the Patriots prep for Arizona. One, the Cardinals are very good. Two, they’ve got just about everyone back from last year, and that team won 13 games and lost in the NFC championship game to Carolina.

— And three, if New England manages to win this one, who can beat the Patriots this season? That’s an honest question. My answer is: Only they can beat themselves.

— The Patriots’ pick-up of defensive back Eric Rowe is another typical NE move. Finding talented, young, versatile, somewhat underachieving players and bringing them into Foxboro to do unto others as they have had done unto them. It’s the Golden Rule.

— If anyone seriously believes Jimmy Garoppolo is looking over his shoulder at the Tom Brady banner on the lighthouse at Gillette Stadium, you clearly have never worn a jock strap in your life. Or a sports bra. Some of you have worn both. See how I became all-inclusive there?

— I have the Patriots at a ho-hum 12-4 for the regular season. You? I also have the J-E-T-S breathing right down their necks most of the year. And there’s no Mark Sanchez to buttfumble anything away at the end, either.

— Is there any reason to think New England might not be a Super Bowl contender this year? Is Brady’s four-game absence enough to keep the Patriots away? Fifteen consecutive winning seasons, 13 seasons with at least 10 wins, six with at least 12 victories. Thirteen of the last 15 AFC East titles, too. TB12 was the QB to start the year in all of those, but nope. Not in my book. They’ve got this thing figured out pretty well.

— Not for nuthin’, but is anyone else buying this Sunday Night as a Super preview? ‘Cuz I think it just might be.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking Out Loud: Will NFL spy on Tom Brady during suspension? 09.02.16 at 5:30 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Will NFL spy on Tom Brady during suspension?

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering if the Magic 8-Ball really knows all.

— As the Patriots roster now begins to take its shape for the upcoming season, keep this in mind: Injuries always play a factor. That’s why I find so-called roster projections from the media interesting. No one really knows what the coaches and front-office personnel ultimately will decide.

— Unless they’re like me, and they utilize their Magic 8-Ball, which always has been quick with a response in the past. I asked the 8-Ball what the Patriots roster was going to look like next week, and it replied, “My answer is no.” Makes perfect sense to me.

— So, any Tom Brady sightings in or around Gillette Stadium in the last 48 hours or so? Think the NFL might have some super-secret spies checking out the landscape to see if anyone is, um, taking liberties with the rules?

— Among the players already visited by “The Turk,” Terrance Knighton’s cut from the roster was a bit of a surprise from this corner. I do seem to recall, however, that when his signing appeared imminent, he wasn’t initially thrilled with becoming a “rotational player.”

— Knighton, according to the NFLPA and seconded by our friend and salary cap guru Miguel (his Twitter handle is @capspacev2), apparently did not earn any of his weight-based bonuses in his contract, either. Wonder if that came back to bite him, um, in the, um, you know?

— Barkevious Mingo brings badly needed depth to the linebacking corps, and if nothing else, also brings an automatic spellcheck every time I type his name.

— If you’re wondering about the guy who was flying around MetLife Stadium Thursday night against the New York Giants, Mingo’s story is a familiar refrain — underachieving, young veteran player looking for a clean start and new opportunity. This is how, more than just about anything else, the Patriots have built themselves into a dynastic franchise — identifying hungry players eager to make a name for themselves.

— Oh, and one more thing: They bring in players who also are in their final contractual years, as Mingo is. Make or break is a pretty good attitude to have on your side.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Barkevious Mingo, Terrance Knighton, Tom Brady,
Thinking Out Loud: Bryant basketball team continues tour of Italy after earthquake 08.26.16 at 3:43 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thinking Out Loud: Bryant basketball team continues tour of Italy after earthquake

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and wondering whatever happened to Michael Bishop.

— One of those rare occasions happened this week when the real world and the sports world collide — and excuse each other for the intrusion. The Bryant basketball team is touring Italy, situated in Rome, and was supposed to play in the town of Spoleto on Wednesday night — until a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy.

— That first game in Spoleto, not far from the quake’s epicenter and only about 20 minutes from one of the hardest-hit areas (Amatrice), was canceled. The tremors were felt in Rome, waking coach Tim O’Shea (as he reported via social media), and Bryant’s travel party is safe. But the death toll surpassed 240 late this week as rescue efforts continue in the mountainous central region of the country.

— Sport becomes a complete afterthought when faced with tragedy like this. And it should be. Bryant’s team traveled to Naples late in the week after completing its tour of Rome.

— Sometimes the stress and strain of directing a high major basketball program takes its toll in different ways. To the surprise of many, Providence basketball coach Ed Cooley underwent back surgery for a herniated disc this week. The athletic department reports Cooley’s surgery went well, and he expects to be back in the office next week at some point, with classes starting Aug. 29 — and he certainly expects to be back coaching the team for the start of preseason workouts in October.

— The third annual Providence Basketball Classic will be held Saturday (Aug. 27) at Jorge Alvarez High School in Providence from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eight teams of former pro and college players from New England will compete in a single-elimination tournament, competing for a cash prize, and there will be a high school all-star game as well. Backpack giveaways for the start of school, school supplies and free haircuts are a part of the festivities, and admission is only $3.

— About 1,000 fans attended last year’s event, which is the creation of former Johnson & Wales all-American Lamonte Thomas. Thomas is preparing for his fifth season of playing professionally in Europe. Cool that he continues to give back to the community by hosting this event.

— ICYMI, Tomas Murphy, who hails from Wakefield, Rhode Island, is headed to Northeastern to play his college ball for coach Bill Coen. Coen and Murphy’s dad, Jay, are long-time friends with Boston College connections, and Murphy’s brothers (Erik and Alex) played at Florida under Billy Donovan. Butler, Pittsburgh and Georgia also were in the final mix until the end.

Read the rest of this entry »