Thinking 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.
— Speaking of Florida, in case you missed it, former Providence College assistant coach Steve DeMeo, who worked on Tim Welsh’s staff, is the head coach at Northwest Florida State, a two-year program in Niceville, Florida. NW Florida was just ranked No. 1 in the nation in the preseason junior college polls.
— NW Florida’s home arena will be the site for the upcoming Emerald Coast Classic over the Thanksgiving holiday next month, as the Friars will face Memphis and either Iowa or Virginia.
— Ed Cooley is ready for the season. But this week on his coach’s show (aired on 103.7 WEEI-FM), he purposely downplayed his team’s chances — especially early in the season. There may be some growing pains for the young Friars once the season tips off.
— PC’s exhibition with Carleton is likely to be quite challenging. The Ravens are one of the top programs in Canada, having won six straight national titles (think Duke and Kentucky-like pedigrees, only north of the border) and already have played an astounding 12 games (their preseason begins in August), all of them wins. That’s right, they’re 12-and-oh.
— Carleton played at UMass in a closed scrimmage Friday night before facing the Friars on Saturday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Ravens already have beaten Stetson and Wichita State in exhibitions. Got your attention now?
— The Friars, in case you were wondering, will follow with a closed scrimmage of their own next week against Northeastern before opening the regular season on Nov. 14 at home against Vermont.
— Former Boston Herald editor and Celtics beat reporter Mike Carey has a new book out, chronicling the life and times of former Friars great Marvin Barnes. The book is titled “Bad News,” but as you read into it, it’s really nothing but “straight news” when it comes to dealing with Barnes’ life and well-chronicled demons. This isn’t a hatchet job, by any means. It’s an honest, truthful look at a rather turbulent life and how Barnes tried to cope. Carey would know — Marvin lived with him for several years. Find your copy at sportspubbooks.com.
— At the Northeast Conference media day in Brooklyn this week, Bryant was picked third in the men’s hoops preseason poll behind Fairleigh Dickinson (the defending tournament champ) and Wagner (the defending regular-season champ). The Bulldogs return their top four scorers from last season for coach Tim O’Shea, and open up this season playing at Notre Dame on Nov. 12.
— The American Athletic Conference selected Cincinnati over UConn in the men’s preseason poll this week. But it was duly noted (by many) through social media the Bearcats are 0-4 vs. the Big East since their departure from the league.
— Will Geno Auriemma ever retire, or move on? What’s left for him to accomplish? His UConn women’s team was a unanimous preseason pick to win the AAC again (YAWN) and the Huskies have never lost a game in conference play — including the postseason. That’s 63-0, if you’re wondering. Is that good for a game that could use a boost? Just sayin’.
— Didn’t realize it until this week, but Virginia Commonwealth coach Will Wade is only 33 years old, and his Rams were picked for third in the Atlantic 10 this season (behind Dayton and URI). He was in diapers, literally, when I started as Voice of the Friars.
— North Carolina-Wilmington was picked to win the Colonial, with Towson and coach Pat Skerry (a former PC and URI assistant) second. Bill Coen’s Northeastern team was slotted seventh, for what that’s worth.
— Say what you wish about John Calipari, and you’d probably be right. But make sure to include “helluva recruiter” when you label him. Sure, he’s got the UK pedigree behind him, and probably a few other things assisting his efforts. But 24 former Kentucky Wildcats are on NBA opening day rosters, more than any other school — and he coached 22 of them.
— The ACC and the Big East are the only leagues where every school put at least one representative on an NBA opening day roster. Eleven of 12 teams in the Pac-12 did it too, minus Oregon State.
— Ben Bentil learned the hard knocks of life in the pros this week — first being cut by the Celtics, then landing with Indiana on Monday morning, only to be released by the Pacers on Monday afternoon. Fox Sports Indiana has indicated he likely will sign to play for the team’s D-League club in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
— Also in the D-League this season is former Bishop Hendricken and West Virginia star Joe Mazzula, but not as a player. Mazzula spent the past three seasons coaching at Fairmont State in West Virginia, and he recently agreed to become an assistant with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
— Joe’s younger brother, Justin Mazzulla, this week verbally committed to playing college basketball at George Washington University in the Atlantic 10. The younger Mazzulla was Rhode Island’s state Gatorade Player of the Year last season at Hendricken.
— This bears watching, but former Friars and Celtics coach Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals may be forced to vacate their 2013 national title. The NCAA recently criticized Pitino for failing to monitor his program in the wake of the scandal involving strippers and sex for recruits. If the school is forced to forfeit any games from that season, when the violations reportedly occurred, the national title also might disappear. But it won’t be awarded to runner-up Michigan, either.
— You want hot? Let’s consider the Providence men’s soccer team. Two years removed from an appearance in the College Cup soccer final four, the Friars have won six straight matches after a 2-1 Big East win over Marquette on Wednesday on campus. At 10-5 on the season, PC has gone from worst to first in the Big East standings over the past month and now is in position to host a first-round playoff game at home.
— As part of the Providence Friar Legends Forever program, PC has announced its latest class of honorees for this year. Otis Thorpe, Bruce “Soup” Campbell, Doris Burke, Lou Lamoriello, Ron Wilson and Cammi Granato will be honored the weekend of Feb. 11. That’s a power-packed, star-studded group.
— The basketball inductees get their moment at halftime of that day’s game against Butler, while the hockey krishnas will be recognized before the Friday night (Feb. 10) game with UConn. All of these famous Friars will be honored Saturday night at the Omni Hotel in Providence.
— Hard as it may be for Red Sox fans to watch, there is definite intrigue when it comes to the Cubs and Indians in the World Series. For starters, history will be written either way, with a 108-year streak or a 68-year streak of futility coming to an end.
— Who ya’ got? There’s a little part of me that likes having “hexes” and “curses” around, as they add to the color, flavor and history of a sport. So count me in on keeping the Cubs’ record of futility intact. And, I’ve always liked Terry Francona. The way he was treated on his way out of Boston was shameful, even if it comes with the territory around here.
— You know we’re living in an alternate universe when Cleveland might become the latest (and newest) Titletown.
— Best trivial item I heard all week? That sliced bread wasn’t invented until four years AFTER the Cubs won their last World Series in 1908. What did people do before 1912? Bite directly into the loaf?
— Dan Shaughnessy’s recent piece in The Boston Globe on Theo vs. Tito in the World Series made me think, and simply sigh. Just how did the Red Sox get to the point where BOTH of their heroes from the 2004 jinx-busting team managed to wriggle their way out of Fenway? Epstein mentioned that it was like a marriage with “a delicate balance.”
— He didn’t have to add — but I will — that John Henry and Tom Werner served as completely incapable marriage counselors.
— If you find yourself pulling for one of these teams over the other by the relative worth of their related sports movies, I’ve got “Major League” over “Rookie of the Year,” and it’s not close.
— The problem with kickers is, you love ‘em, you hate ‘em, you have to have a good one, and they can drive you batty. Pretty much sums up how Patriots fans feel about Stephen Gostkowski at the present moment. Recent shanks aside, there’s no one else out there who can kick it better. Ride with the Ghost.
— Plus, you think the Pats have it bad? Try following Arizona and Seattle. Their kickers took professional ineptitude to a new level of ineptitude last Monday night, when both missed chip shots that could have won a miserable overtime game. Instead, everyone lives with a 6-6 tie, the first in the NFL in two years.
— Patriots vs. Bills, Part II, is not likely to end well for Buffalo. Rex Ryan knows he stole one in Foxboro about a month ago, and Sexy Rexy has been uncharacteristically quiet this week. Think he’s getting ready for a good ol’-fashioned butt-whuppin’.
— At 6-1, the Patriots have the best record in the NFL through seven weeks. But in this view, they don’t appear to be championship-caliber. Yet. The defense is lagging behind in improvement, although the last two weeks have seen some slow growth in getting off the field on third down and in the red zone. Health is the key factor in further improvement from this point forward.
— Our friend Kerry Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts pointed it out this week: The Pats defense leads the NFL in something known as “bendability.” What does this mean? Statistically, opponents have to travel an average of 150 yards for every seven points they score against New England. Not 100, nor 80, or even 70. By the end of a game, that’s demoralizing — and tiring.
— Who said Julian Edelman was having problems? The fans? Media? Look, there are only so many footballs to go around. Against Cincinnati, it was Gronk and Bennett. For the Steelers, Edelman resumed his old ways of being TB12’s best binky. He still leads the Patriots with 37 receptions and 55 targets going into this weekend, says WEEI.com’s Chris Price.
— Edelman’s targets are down for this year, compared to last, however. But that’s likely a result of 1) Gronk and Bennett, and 2) the shuffling of quarterbacks.
— I simply don’t know what more to make of the Josh Brown story. The truth is, I’ve become numb to the noise. But the noise, unfortunately, is getting louder and harder to ignore. The only way to fix an apparent domestic violence problem in professional sports is to kick someone out after one offense. That’s it. One and you’re done.
— Pro football — for all of the complaining we do about it — has the chance to be a standard-bearer on this issue. No tolerance for violence, period. But will the NFL stand up, like it does for cancer awareness? Don’t hold your breath on this one.
— So we have Brown on one side, persona non grata in the NFL right now, and Aroldis Chapman of the Chicago Cubs, who allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired off eight shots from a shotgun while in Cincinnati, before he moved on to New York and Chicago, on another. One is considered a degenerate, and lower than low. The other may very well be a World Series hero.
— What are we missing here?
— It’s never a trick, and always a treat, when you can throw in some PawSox for Halloween. The Pawtucket Red Sox are inviting families and children to “Trick or Treat” at McCoy Stadium on Halloween from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Candy will be a star attraction, as will the mascots — and prizes for costumes awarded.
— Oh, the NBA season has started? Wake me up after Christmas.
— My buddy “Big E” asked one of his employees the other day if he believed in life after death. “No sir,” the employee answered. “E” said, “That’s interesting. I thought the same way, until yesterday. After you left early to attend your grandmother’s funeral, she stopped by the office to see you.”
— You know times have changed — and not necessarily for the better — when Snoopy gets his pink slip. The Peanuts cartoon character has been appearing in MetLife insurance ads and on the side of the company’s blimp since the 1980s, but no more. MetLife says it wants to “refresh” its image as sophisticated and financially savvy.
— What could be more sophisticated than Snoopy flying in his Sopwith Camel, dueling with the Red Baron?
— Speaking of hot air — Donald Trump is full of it, sure, but this whole voter fraud thing that he keeps referring to? If the state of Rhode Island has 781,770 citizens registered to vote, according to the Secretary of State, yet the U.S. Census Bureau says there should only be 592,672 citizens registered to vote — why the wide discrepancy in the numbers? The Providence Journal pointed this out this week. The difference is alarming.
— Good ol’ Rhody. Vote early and often, apparently. Zombies? Did anyone count them?
— Daniel from San Antonio, Texas posted this week on Facebook: Hey John, what do you think of our boy Kawhi Leonard this season? He’s literally a machine from the future sent back in time. Daniel: I will agree with you here — he’s got a skill set that has developed quite unnaturally for the present NBA. By this I mean you just don’t see many of the things that he can do. His long arms and big hands make him an elite defender, and now he’s an opportunistic scorer. He’s really developed for the Spurs, and I enjoy watching him play. Kris Dunn is very similar in build on a slightly smaller scale, and potentially a dynamite watch for NBA fans, too.
— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ’em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to email@example.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke.
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