Category Archives: Blogs

Clarion Football Picks for the Weekend of Sept. 18-19

We’re back again.  Last week, Taurin led the way with 7 correct picks (and we’ll obviously find out later on if his Super Bowl pick is right).  I got 6, and Alex was the caboose with 5.  On to the next one.

This week’s games: Florida @ Tennessee, Iowa @ Arizona, Steelers @ Titans, Dolphins @ Vikings, Ravens @ Bengals, Giants @ Colts, Texans @ Redskins, Saints @ 49ers, Patriots @ Jets, and Bears @ Cowboys. Our Bonus Pick this week is simple: Who scores more points in Week 2, the Texans or the Patriots?

Let’s get to it!

Adam: Florida, Iowa, Titans, Vikings, Ravens, Colts, Texans, Saints, Patriots, Cowboys and the Patriots.

Alex: Tennessee, Iowa, Titans, Vikings, Bengals, Colts, Redskins, Saints, Patriots, Cowboys and the Patriots.

Taurin: Florida, Iowa, Titans, Vikings, Bengals, Colts, Texans, Saints, Patriots, Cowboys and the Texans.

Clarion Football Picks for the Weekend of Sept. 11-12

This is a new running feature here on SinclairClarion.com.  We’ve decided–because of our excitement over football getting rolling again–to run some NFL and NCAA picks in this spot each week, usually by Thursday (if there is a quality Thursday game).  Your pickers will be me, Adam Adkins, fellow news editor Taurin Hickman and our esteemed graphic designer, Alexander Linton.  The idea is to do 10 picks each week, with maybe an additional pick of something different, maybe ‘how many touchdowns will Tom Brady throw this week?’ or something like that.

We’ll also keep a running tally and the winner will receive a lovely prize.  What’s the prize?  Well kid, have the fun is not knowing.  Also don’t be surprised if you see a guest picker show up every once in a while.  It could even be you.   (Yes, you!)

Sound like fun?

This week, we’re picking: Miami (FL) @ Ohio St; Florida State @ Oklahoma; Michigan @ Notre Dame; and Penn State @ Alabama on the college side.  For the guys getting paid legally: Vikings @ Saints; Ravens @ Jets; Cowboys @ Redskins; Bengals @ Patriots; Packers @ Eagles; and Falcons @ Steelers.

This week’s extra pick is an easy one: who beats who in the Super Bowl?

Adam’s Picks

Miami, FSU, Michigan, Alabama, Saints, Ravens, Cowboys, Patriots, Packers and Falcons.

Super Bowl Pick: Colts over Falcons

Taurin’s Picks

Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan, Alabama, Saints, Ravens, Cowboys, Patriots, Eagles and Falcons.

Super Bowl Pick: Colts over Packers.

Alex’s Picks

Ohio State, Florida State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Saints, Ravens, Redskins, Bengals, Eagles and Steelers.

Super Bowl Pick: Redskins over Bengals.

Want to be a guest picker?  You can reach the Clarion via email at [email protected] Put ‘Guest Picker’ in the subject please.

Sinclair earns No. 4 seed at Regionals

Ranked No. 6 in the nation, the Sinclair Tartan Pride (42-8, 10-2 in OCCAC) earned the fourth overall seed in the NJCAA Regional XII Tournament.

For the second straight season, the Tartan Pride face No. 5 Muskegon Community College (42-14, 20-8 in MCCAA) in the first round. The match will be held on Friday, May 14 at 10 a.m. in Battle Creek, Mich. Sinclair finished runner-up in last year’s regional tournament. The college has reached regionals for the fourth consecutive season.

The bracket includes eight teams in the double-elimination tournament, with Kellogg Community College (37-15, 23-5 in MCCAA) holding the No. 1 overall seed. Vincennes University, who Sinclair defeated in all four head-to-head matchups this season, is the No. 3 seed.

Sinclair defeated Muskegon 9-5 in last year’s opening game. The Tartan Pride have reeled off 14 wins in their previous 16 contests heading into the tournament.

Check SinclairClarion.com on Friday for the latest news from Battle Creek as Sinclair looks to clinch its first trip to the NJCAA World Series.

No tea for me—I prefer coffee

Is anybody else tired of polar politics?  Democrats are evil.  Republicans are out of touch.  The left is too liberal.  The right is too conservative.  It’s one side against the other all the time, and I’m tired of it.  It’s time for independent voters to get together and make their voices heard.

The big “independent” group getting attention is the Tea Party Movement, but I don’t identify with them.  Sure there are independent trainings like The Patriot Caucus, “an effort aimed at developing statewide infrastructure for the purpose of influencing the outcome of elections,” but Tea Party sites routinely use disrespectful language toward government officials to garner support for their cause.

For example, TeaPartyPatriots.org refers to the president as “Mr. Obama.”  TaxDayTeaParty.com has a page entitled “Dump Harry Reid” that doesn’t say anything about why they want to “dump” the Senate majority leader.  That’s not what I’m after.  I want intelligent, independent, diverse political discourse from all points of view, not just one, without name-calling or disrespect.

Enter the Coffee Party.  Like the Tea Party, the Coffee Party Movement was started to fulfill the need for political discourse among citizens.  Independent thought is valued and community gatherings are encouraged.  Unlike the Tea Party, the Coffee Party uses civility and respect to hash out their differences.

The Coffee Party Movement was inadvertently started by Annabel Park, an immigrant from South Korea.  The movement was the result of an angry Facebook status update that grew into a Facebook fan page, according to a February article at the Washington Post.  Since then, Park has helped found Coffee Party USA, a website that serves as a forum for “deliberation guided by reason amongst the many viewpoints held by our members.”

No preexisting ideology?  Diversity of members and opinions?  Recognizing the federal government as “the expression of our collective will” and not as an enemy?  This is something I can get behind.

The expression of many points of view with true care and consideration for everyone’s concerns is best for everyone in the long run.  That is why with you as my witnesses, I hereby take the Civility Pledge:

“As a member or supporter of the Coffee Party, I pledge to conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest, and respectful toward people with whom I disagree. I value people from different cultures, I value people with different ideas, and I value and cherish the democratic process.”

Freedom, liberty and coffee for all.

Give it up for April

It’s not easy deciding on a sport to watch in the month of April.

The options are seemingly limitless, as multiple worlds collide in the sports universe when April rolls around.

We’ve already witnessed two fantastic NCAA Tournaments that were capped off with national championship wins by the Duke Blue Devils on April 5 and the University of Connecticut Huskies on April 6. Basketball junkies continue to get their fix as the NBA wrapped up its regular season and began the exciting playoffs on April 17.

Major League Baseball kicked off on April 4 when the Boston Red Sox hosted the World Champion New York Yankees and the National Hockey League became watchable now that the playoffs have arrived.

The National Football League even dominates with the three-day extravaganza that is the NFL Draft.

But the month of April belongs to golf, and it was fairly easy to comprehend on a certain lazy Sunday.

On April 11, I was stuck on my couch with some serious choices to consider. My first dilemma involved the NBA and MLB. At 1 p.m., the Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Orlando Magic in potential preview of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals, while my beloved Cincinnati Reds faced off against the Chicago Cubs.

Those options were trumped, though, when the final round of the Masters began.

It’s must-see television when Woods enters the final round of a major in striking distance. And with Phil Mickelson tied for the lead heading into Sunday, it was a easy choice to shift my attention away from baseball and basketball when golf came on at 2 p.m.

After watching Mickelson put on his third green jacket, it’s safe to say that the Masters is the highlight of the best sports month of the year. It’s the biggest golf tournament of the every year and the major owns a certain mystique thanks the beauty of Augusta National and the challenges the course constantly throws at its competitors.

It doesn’t get much better than April with every major sport sharing the spotlight.

Mocking the NFL Draft

A lot has happened since the Clarion gave its first attempt at sorting out the first five picks of the 2010 NFL Draft on SinclairClarion.com.

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is now the likely first overall selection, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow signed an endorsement deal with Nike and the Washington Redskins are no longer in the market for a starting quarterback.

Many experts believe the talent in the 2010 Draft is the one of the deepest in history.

Here’s a preview of what the first ten picks would look like if I were running the show.

1. St. Louis Rams (1-15) — Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

After releasing former starting quarterback Marc Bulger, the Rams are forcing themselves into taking Bradford, the former Heisman Trophy winning from Oklahoma.

It’s not a bad decision by any means because St. Louis’ roster is full of players who don’t produce. Honestly, the Rams are so bad that picking any player at any position—except running back—would be an upgrade.

There’s little doubt when it comes to Bradford’s intelligence and accuracy, but after sustaining two serious shoulder injuries in a two-month span, the Rams will have some worries to consider.

Out of the 12 teams that made the playoffs last season, each starting quarterback either was drafted in the first round or has become a legitimate MVP candidate.

2. Detroit Lions (2-14) — Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

If the Lions can grab this dominating defender, Detroit just might end its pathetic run of losing.

Suh, a 6-foot-4 monster weighing in at 300 lbs., generates a ton of attention that other teams don’t give to Detroit’s awful defense. Suh automatically garners two blockers, which will allow Detroit linebackers to roam free.

The Lions aren’t winning a title anytime soon, but players like Suh are essential when it comes to turning a losing organization into one that wins consistently.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13) — Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

The Bucs need some serious interior line help, so they picked the right year to lose 13 games. Suh and McCoy are rare talents that both have the ability to dominate at the defensive tackle position straight out of college, so Tampa Bay could have either one of them if they drop to No. 3.

McCoy has similar size and strength to Suh, but he’s viewed as quicker threat. Tampa Bay doesn’t have a lot of building blocks and I was torn between McCoy and Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung. Tampa is in a similar position with St. Louis in that there isn’t a wrong answer.

4. Washington Redskins (4-12) — Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

Now that the Redskins plucked quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles, quarterback is no longer an objective in the first round.

Washington has to address the offensive line. Left tackle Chris Samuels retired, so Okung would be a wise investment if they want to keep McNabb healthy. The Redskins are a run-based team with three former Pro Bowl running backs on the roster. Okung has the size and strength to provide a solid structure to a weak offensive line.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (4-12) — Brian Bulaga, OT, Iowa

Bulaga is a prototypical “can’t miss” prospect when it comes to offensive tackles. The size and strength are present and the nastiness is a welcoming characteristic. Plus, Bulaga has experience grinding it out in the “between-the-tackles” style of the Big Ten.

Kansas City needs some serious help on the offensive line and Bulaga can step right in and provide.

6. Seattle Seahawks (5-11) — Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

Under head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks begin a new course with two picks in the first round. Selecting Berry would be an excellent beginning if Carroll gets the opportunity to pull the trigger.

As a ball-hawking safety, Berry makes quarterbacks second-guess a decision to throw deep. Not only is Berry superior against the pass, but he can hold his own against the run. The Seahawks have a few more glaring needs along the roster, but Berry is a piece Seattle shouldn’t pass up.

7. Cleveland Browns (5-11) — Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

With Mike Holmgren at the helm, the Browns finally have some one intelligent running the operation.

Cleveland shot itself in the foot when they drafted Brady Quinn out of Notre Dame in 2007. But, Clausen shouldn’t send the same negative shockwaves that Quinn produced during his three years in Cleveland.

Clausen would be able to start from moment he signs and his arm can light up a scoreboard. He’s going to have to deal with the Quinn comparisons for while, but Browns fans should get over it.

I don’t care if Cleveland signed Jake Delhomme to play quarterback. Delhomme isn’t going to improve and he isn’t leading anybody to the playoffs. Give Clausen the ball and get out of the way.

8. Oakland Raiders (5-11) — Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

How many times can owner Al Davis screw this up and get away with it?

It’s clear Davis loves offense. In the last three drafts, Oakland has used its first round picks on quarterback JaMarcus Russell (bust), running back Darren McFadden (semi-bust) and wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey (destination: Bust).

So, in order for those players to discover any sort of success, somebody needs to block. That’s why the Raiders must choose Williams. He’s not going to be an elite tackle, but he’s got to be better than what is already present in Oakland.

9. Buffalo Bills (6-10) — Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

Since former All-Pro receiver Andre Reed left town, the Bills have lacked a true No. 1 receiver since 1999. Plug in Bryant and that problem is solved.

With a 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame, Bryant is a force at the receiver position. Though Buffalo has zero talent at the quarterback position, Bryant is the kind of talent the Bills are in desperate need of.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9) — Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

Pierre-Paul is a freak of nature. It seems every draft class has one or two prospects that physically stand out above and beyond the rest. Pierre-Paul lacks big game experience and the numbers, but his physical skills are what impress NFL general managers the most.

Jacksonville’s Quentin Groves, the current starter at right defensive end, produced little pressure on opposing quarterbacks last year. It’s become a serious necessity in a division with strong quarterback play from Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning and Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub.

11. Denver Broncos (8-8), from Chicago — Earl Thomas, S, Texas

After trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins, the Broncos are in dire need of a wideout. Bryant is gone at this point and the next rated receiver doesn’t garner the No. 11 pick. Denver needs to keep upgrading its aging defense if it wants to improve.

12. Miami Dolphins (7-9) — Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

The Dolphins answered their biggest questions after acquiring Marshall, so the lack of pass-rushers needs to be resolved. Miami lost both starting outside linebackers Joey Porter and Jason Taylor from last year. Morgan fits nicely in the hybrid linebacker position accustomed to 3-4 defenses.

13. San Francisco 49ers (8-8) — Joe Haden, CB, Florida

Outside of quarterback, the 49ers don’t have a lot of holes to fill. Upgrading the cornerback position is never a bad idea and Haden can step right in and start from day one.

14. Seattle Seahawks (5-11), from Denver — Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

Carroll stacks his defense with this pick after already scooping Berry. McClain is a prototypical leader in the mold of linebacker Ray Lewis. Pairing McClain, Berry and last year’s No. 4 overall pick Aaron Curry brings a ton of excitement to Seattle.

15. New York Giants (8-8) — Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

The Giants had a tough year with injuries and in order to right the ship, New York needs to protect quarterback Eli Manning in 2010. Davis is raw, but he has the talent to become a vital piece to the puzzle.

16. Tennessee Titans (8-8) — Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

The Titans need to fill the hole left by former defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Selecting Williams allows the Titans to start him right away to help create some havoc on the line of scrimmage. Williams isn’t on the same level as Suh or McCoy, but he’s a nice value at pick.

17. San Francisco 49ers (8-8), from Carolina — Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho

I’ve never seen the guy live, but Iupati is shooting up draft boards. On film, Iupati is a physical blocker that any team would welcome with open arms. It’s a difficult decision to select an offensive guard this early, but Iupati’s skills warrant the pick.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) — Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

The Steelers are pretty set on offense, so going with a defensive back would be wise considering how thin the cornerback position is in Pittsburgh. I’m not sure Wilson would start right away, but he was a highly impactful player for Boise State and Pittsburgh loves playmakers in its secondary.

19. Atlanta Falcons (9-7) — Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama

Jackson is one of the fastest players in the draft and he showed his coverage skills as a standout on Alabama’s excellent defense last season. The Falcons need some help at corner and Jackson is the best player available. Makes sense to me.

20. Houston Texans (9-7) — Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida

The offensive line has always seemed to be a problem for Houston. Pouncey can start at center from day one or shift to a guard slot. He’s the best center in the draft and would be a nice upgrade to a mediocre Texans offensive line.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) — C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

The Bengals are pretty set on defense outside of a good pass rush. Cincinnati realized how important a running game is. Running back Cedric Benson has three years left, at best. Spiller is the best player available and Cincinnati usually takes that route when it comes to the first round. Spiller would be an excellent addition to an average offense.

22. New England Patriots (10-6) — Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

Wide receiver Wes Welker is doubtful for the 2010 season. Tate would be an interesting addition. He has strong hands and is a good route runner. Quarterback Tom Brady makes everybody around him better and Tate would excel in New England.

23. Green Bay Packers (10-6) — Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland

Campbell is the most athletic offensive tackle in the draft and Green Bay has to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This is a great value for Campbell who has high potential.

24. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) — Taylor Mays, S, Southern California

The Eagles have some serious holes on defense. Mays is a physical specimen at safety and I wouldn’t be too surprised if Philadelphia transitioned Mays to linebacker. Mays is a big hitter that the Eagles have lacked since safety Brian Dawkins departed.

25. Baltimore Ravens (9-7) — Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan

Graham would fit nicely into a 3-4 standout linebacker role and the Ravens need some help with their aging defense. Baltimore needs more impact players and Graham proved at Michigan that he can get to the quarterback with the best.

26. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) — Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas

Another hybrid linebacker, Kindle plugs into the 3-4 scheme in Arizona. Kindle showed a remarkable knack for the football during his final season for Texas. The Cardinals lost a couple key pieces to their defense, so going defense with this pick is important.

27. Dallas Cowboys (11-5) — Charles Brown, OT, Southern California

Dallas has a huge hole on the offensive line after left tackle Flozell Adams got releases. The Cowboys need to add some youth to the line and Brown is the best tackle available.

28. San Diego Chargers (13-3) — Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

Trading cornerback Antonio Cromartie to the New York Jets opens up a hole in San Diego’s secondary. Robinson has good speed and excels in coverage, and the Chargers seem to lean toward players in the secondary with their first round picks.

29. New York Jets (9-7) — Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

If the Jets can pick Dunlap with the 29th pick, it would be considered a theft of epic proportion. Dunlap has top-five talent, but dealt with legal issues last season. If Dunlap can stay out of trouble, he has a chance to provide a strong spark to an already excellent defense.

30. Minnesota Vikings (12-4) — Jahvid Best, RB, California

Running back Adrian Peterson couldn’t hold onto a football in the playoffs and reliable backup Chestor Taylor bolted for Chicago in free agency. The Vikings have to get some insurance for Peterson how always seems to get small injuries over a course of the season. Best would be a nice third-down option, as well.

31. Indianapolis Colts (14-2) — Everson Griffen, DE, Southern California

The Colts realize how important a pass rush is and Griffen is a nice value at No. 31. Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are as good of pair as they come, but it never hurts to add pass rushers.

32. New Orleans Saints (13-3) — Daryl Washington, LB, Texas Christian

After winning Super Bowl XXIV, the Saints lost two starting linebackers to an opportunistic defense. New Orleans is a very complete team, so it’s obvious to take Washington, an athletic linebacker who can make all the plays.