Gary Laubach

About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

The Leopards Roar

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

DREAM COME TRUE TELETHON RAISES OVER $100,000 – THANK YOU!

It’s not very often that I have a week with no broadcasts.  But, with the early exits of our high school football teams, that is exactly what happened last week.  So faced with either going cold turkey or finding a game or two to attend, I decided on Tuesday to accompany the Lafayette Men’s Basketball team to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Coach Fran O’Hanlon was kind enough to allow me to ride the bus with the team.  Fran is well-known in the Philadelphia area, having grown up there, playing high school and college basketball (Villanova) there, and coaching there.  And friends like 76’ers coach, Brett Brown, and former Temple coach, Fran Dunphy, amongst many others, were there to welcome the coach and retell many stories.

Lafayette was going for their third straight win, but their first over the Hawks in 44 years.  They last beat St. Joe’s on December 3, 1975.  The Leopards were on fire from the very beginning and led by 23 at one point in the first half.  Then they went into a scoring drought and did not score the last 5½ minutes of the first half and the lead was reduced to seven.  They had no lulls in the second half and went on to win 94-71.

This past Saturday the same Leopards traveled to Ithaca, NY and, despite not playing very well, they beat their third Ivy League opponent with a last-second three to win by three over Cornell 62-59.  They had previously beaten Penn and Princeton.  Their record improved to 6-2 as the players head into final exams.

This got me thinking that Lafayette athletics are on a bit of a roll.  The football team beat Lehigh on November 23 and stopped a four-game losing streak to the Mountain Hawks.  It took a last-minute field goal to win the game 17-16, but it was a sweet victory in game # 155 of college football’s most played rivalry.  With the win, the Leopards finished second in the Patriot League.

The Women’s basketball team is off to a good start with a 4-4 record, having won three straight before losing this past weekend to Monmouth.

In fact, the entire Lafayette Fall athletic program jumped six places in the President’s Cup Fall Standings.  Their field hockey, men’s soccer, and football teams all finished in second place.  The men’s teams finished second overall and the women finished sixth.

The President’s Cup is awarded to the Patriot League program that earns the most points overall for the year.  There is no question the Leopards are “roarin’” right now and the athletic program is moving in the right direction.

Much like going to St. Joe’s this past Tuesday, I am glad that I am along for the ride, too.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. I know you know that New England lost at home this weekend to the Chiefs. But did you know that they had won 21 straight games (including playoffs) at home?  The loss, for the moment, took away their home field advantage for the playoffs.  The Pats are 10-3 while the Ravens are now 11-2 in the AFC.
  1. Despite all the replays and looks from every angle, it appears that there is still about five plays each game that have no clear-cut decisive outcome. If you watch game after game, I defy anyone to tell me what pass interference is.  Even when it goes to replay, the decision very often makes no sense.
  1. So which team is the best in the NFL right now? Is it Baltimore or is it the 49ers?  Is it still New England or maybe the Chiefs?  Do you like the Packers or the Saints?  I am not sure there has been a better example of “on any given Sunday” than this year.  With all the upsets, it appears anything can and will happen in the playoffs.
  1. You know by now, I have been a proponent of having an eight-team playoff for the college football championship. Ironically, it probably does not seem necessary this year.  LSU, Ohio State, and Clemson are certainly the best.  If there is any argument at all, it is whether Oklahoma should be #4 over Georgia or Oregon.  It hurts me to say this, but I think they got it right this year.
  1. High School basketball and wrestling begin this week and it appears, much like football, it is going to be a very entertaining year. Both the Steel and Skyline divisions look very competitive and the Colonial League is shaping up as interesting as ever.  Wrestling is always dramatic.  Get out to a gym, cheer your team on, or follow the action on RCN-TV.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 11-5)  (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 132-74-1  (64%)

BALTIMORE

PHILADELPHIA

MIAMI

TAMPA BAY

GREEN BAY

NEW ENGLAND

HOUSTON

SEATTLE

KANSAS CITY

BUFFALO

OAKLAND

CLEVELAND

NEW ORLEANS

RAMS

MINNESOTA

NEW ORLEANS

 

 

“Thanks” Giving

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Below is a blog I wrote last year. Since my feelings have not changed, it is still quite appropriate so I have decided to repeat it again:

I heard two sentences this week that really hit home. The words were even more poignant since this is Thanksgiving week.

The first sentence came from a gentleman in his 80s. He said, “Growing old is good.” I thought about that since I am getting up there or, as my younger friends constantly remind me, I have already gotten there. It is good. Every day is a new challenge but every day is welcomed.

Sunday night on 60 Minutes, a former NFL player who now suffers from ALS said that when others listen to his optimistic outlook despite being diagnosed with a shortened life, they very often end their encounter with him by saying, “God bless you.” His response is always the same, “He already has.”

For some reason, these two sentences meant a great deal to me. I know I often try to fill these pages with sports stories, but not this week. I have plenty to be thankful for. I, along with many others, I’m sure, rarely verbalize it. Since I have this venue, this is as good a time as any to say “Thank you”.

Thanks to my wife of 56 years. She has always been my rock. I’m not so sure about me. People who know me, and then see her, often say to her, “You must be a saint.” I can tell you she is.

Thanks to my children and grandchildren. For my wife, Luba and I, they are our pride and joy. They are all successful, caring, and nice people. And they are happy. What more could any parent or grandparent want?

Thanks to RCN. My occupational ventures have taken me from the classroom to the broadcasting booth. The ride has been spectacular. I started with Twin-County, stayed on with C-Tec, and continue the journey with RCN. Vocationally, it is the best time of my life and the company continues to allow this guy to represent them in public. I really appreciate that.

Thanks to the viewers. They are appreciative. They complain when we do not games, but even that is a compliment in a way. And when they offer criticism, we take it to heart and try to get better.

Thanks to the athletic directors, the coaches, and the statisticians. This job would be a nightmare without their help. Luckily they ALL help.

Thanks to the student-athletes. If you want to feel and stay young, hang around young people. I know every time I interview a Lafayette student, I come away thinking these are the citizens who will fix the world.

Special thanks to the RCN television team. There are so many workers (and, boy, do they work) who run the wires, set up the cameras, the audio, the graphics, and the booths for every game only to tear it down and do it all over again many times each week.

Thanks to Joanne G. She has to read and edit this blog every week. So at least I know one person has read it and corrected it. She keeps me out of trouble and I thank her for that and feel a little sorry for her.

Making this list felt good. And, to review, “Growing old is good” and God has blessed me.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. Once again the Lehigh Valley District football champions were subjected to the annual pounding by the Philadelphia Catholic schools. Nazareth was soundly beaten by St. Joe’s Prep, ranked #1 in the state and Southern Lehigh was beaten 41-7 by Archbishop Wood. This IS NOT a level playing field. Both of our teams were outstanding this year and yet they could not compete with the non-boundary schools. It is time for a change. Let our public schools compete against public schools.

2. It felt really good to finally call a Lafayette victory over Lehigh! The last time I was able to do that was in 2013. Even though I did a 2-hour pregame at Yankee Stadium in 2014 and Lafayette dominated Lehigh 27-7, I was not part of the broadcasting team.

3. Speaking of Lafayette, their athletic program had quite a week. On Tuesday, the men’s basketball team upset Ivy League favorite Penn (and they had already beaten Princeton); the women beat LIU on Wednesday and won again with a win over Albany on Saturday. The men beat a very good Fairleigh Dickinson team on Sunday and, did I mention, that the Lafayette football team beat Lehigh 17-16 on Saturday. I may have mentioned that.

4. I came home on Saturday and watched the Penn StateOhio State game. I thought that Penn State at least made Ohio State look vulnerable before losing 28-17. One player who is not vulnerable is Chase Young, the defensive end for the Buckeyes. He is spectacular and is being mentioned as the #1 NFL draft choice. It would be a good choice.

5. The Eagles’ offense was awful again this past Sunday. Until their wide receivers get healthy, they will continue to struggle scoring. Hopefully, they will be able to win their games in the next few weeks against weaker opponents. That would leave the Dallas game in Philadelphia as a must win.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 8-6) (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 117-57-1 (67%)
DETROIT
DALLAS
NEW ORLEANS
GREEN BAY
CAROLINA
SAN FRANCISCO
INDIANAPOLIS
PHILADELPHIA
KANSAS CITY
JACKSONVILLE
JETS
RAMS
CHARGERS
CLEVELAND
NEW ENGLAND
MINNESOTA

 

 

Addicted to Competition

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

My job allows me to watch competition every single week. I have always loved to compete myself and my family has, at times, accused me of being somewhat ruthless in any game I play. I do not like to lose.

In my career, I have probably worked, conservatively speaking, 5000+ sporting events. It never gets old. There was no better example than the  ParklandNazareth football game on Friday night for the District XI championship. It took overtime to decide the champion.

I was treated to another great competitor this past week – James Holzhauer. If you do not recognize the name, you must be under 50 and would never watch a television game show (I get it –you’re probably texting or tweeting). This past week, Holzhauer appeared on the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions, which pits the past year’s best players against one another in a two-week competition (there’s that word again).

I am a regular Jeopardy watcher. I TiVo the show every night and manage to find the twenty minutes necessary to watch it. What is great about the show is you can sit in the recliner and compete yourself by offering up correct or, in many cases, incorrect answers. Some nights, I feel pretty good about my cache of pretty useless knowledge. Other times, I don’t do well – you know on the “Lakes of Europe” or “Architectural Design” type categories.

I had a good laugh this year when the category was The NFL. None of the contestants offered up a correct answer – they were 0-5 (those nerds!) I could have won that night (but probably not since there were other categories – “French Artists”, for example).

Back to James Holzhauer. When he was on in the spring, he captured the Top-16 money totals of all time. On April 9, he won $131,127 in one night, the highest ever. His total winnings in the spring were $2,462,216. During that time on the show, he became a cult hero and Jeopardy garnered their highest ratings ever.

For his latest victory this past week (yes, he won again), he got the top prize of $250,000 bringing his total winnings to $2,712,216. It is the third highest total in show history.

I guess it is appropriate that he lives in Las Vegas. They gave him the key to the city after his initial appearance. And it is also appropriate that he is a professional gambler. He often would bet his entire pot on the Double Jeopardy questions. Now he says he is very busy making bets on the NFL.

I’m sure Jeopardy will find a way to bring him back on the show again. After all, who doesn’t like high ratings and, in my case, a great competitor?

P.S. It was just announced after I finished writing the blog that “Jeopardy James” will face Ken Jennings, who won the most games, and Brad Rutter, who has won the most money, in a Greatest of All Time Jeopardy tournament in January in prime time. I know I will watch.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. I hope you saw the Nazareth- Parkland game on Friday night. Two very different teams – one, a strong, physical, in-your-face squad (Parkland); the other, loaded with skill position talent, speed, and creative plays (Nazareth). It was tied in regulation and that was appropriate. Parkland led by seven in overtime. Nazareth scored; they went for two; got it and won by one! It was high school football at its best. Congratulations to both schools.

2. It seems like every week, I have a “what are you thinking” segment directed towards athletes who make millions of dollars and risk it all acting like idiots.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2SJYya3hyc

Should Myles Garrett be allowed to play in the NFL again? I vote “no”.

3. If you had to bet on a Super Bowl winner today, would you take New England (way to go out on a limb), San Francisco (great offense), Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers), the Seahawks (Russell Wilson), the Vikings (Cousins looks good) or might it just be the Ravens (beat New England)? Notice I did not list the Eagles – no wide receivers.

4. There appears to be at least nine teams better than the 76ers right now. They are not consistent and their coach says it may take them until December to jell. He better make sure they do jell or he might be looking for a job.

5. The PIAA 6A quarterfinals start this Friday on RCN-TV at 7:00pm. The game features Philadelphia powerhouse, St. Joe’s Prep, taking on the Nazareth Blue Eagles. Saturday afternoon at 12:30pm, it’s Lafayette Lehigh on RCN-TV. This is college football’s most played rivalry – game number 155. As always, you are invited to join us.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 10-3) (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 109-51-1 (68%)

HOUSTON
PHILADELPHIA
GIANTS
OAKLAND
CLEVELAND
BUFFALO
CINCINNATI
NEW ORLEANS
ATLANTA
DETROIT
TENNESSEE
NEW ENGLAND
SAN FRANCISCO
BALTIMORE

 

 

 

Leopards in First

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.  

I have been writing my blog for almost seven years and the last time I wrote about a Lafayette football team being in first place in the Patriot League was way back in 2013.  They won the championship that year.  It was their last.

In fact, since that championship season, Lafayette has gone 11-22 in the League and has not had a League-winning record since.  And after an 0-7 start to this season, it would be safe to say no one expected they would put themselves in a position to win the Patriot League championship.

But that is exactly where they are.  They are 3-1 in the League, the same record as Holy Cross.  This past weekend, the Leopards beat Holy Cross by a 23-20 score.  Thus, they now hold the tiebreaker should both teams end with the same PL record.

Lafayette has two games remaining – Colgate and Lehigh. Win both and Lafayette is the champion.  However, there is a sports adjective to describe the upcoming game with the Raiders of Colgate – it is called a “trap game”.  This game is the absolute definition of that term:

“A trap game in college football is loosely defined as a game against a lesser opponent that is sandwiched between or directly before a ‘big-time’ game such as against a rival or highly ranked opponent.”

The only shot to a championship for Lafayette started this past week by playing the team that was in first place – Holy Cross.  Therefore, that was the epitome of a “big game”.  After Colgate, comes the 155th game between Lafayette and Lehigh.  That game is ALWAYS on the minds of both teams.  After all, it is college football’s most played rivalry.  Lehigh has won the last four games, so I suppose it is just human nature to constantly be thinking about your arch rival.  There is a countdown clock in the Lafayette locker room that starts the first day of practice denoting when the Lafayette-Lehigh game will begin.

Now you see why Colgate becomes a possible “trap game” – a huge win last week; an even bigger game next week.  The problem here is the term “lesser opponent”.  You see, Colgate also started 0-7 this year.  They were chosen to win the Patriot League before the season started.  In fact, their quarterback was chosen as the pre-season PL offensive player of the year.  They seem to finally be playing at the level most felt they would, having won three of their last four games.  And they have won four straight over Lafayette by a combined scoring total of 138-36; 72-0 the last two years.

Kickoff for the “trap game” is 12:30PM this coming Saturday at Lafayette.  Let’s hope the Leopards are not thinking about the game in Bethlehem the following week.

No matter, it is fun to write once again – Lafayette is atop the Patriot League in the football standings.  It has been a long time!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. With sports betting now legal in many states, it is interesting to see how an NFL weekend outcome affects the payouts. It is estimated that 90% of all bets placed on the ChiefsTitans game were placed on the Chiefs.  The Titans won the game 35-32 after the Chiefs’ tying field goal was blocked with no time left.  It was estimated the bookies won $10 million on the outcome.  With all the upsets on Sunday, it was a good day to be a legal bookie. One bettor in New Jersey, however, put $440,000 on the Titans to win.  That same person also bet $440,000 on Tampa Bay and $420,000 on the Browns.  Both those bets were winners, too.  Oh, my! 
  1. And lest you think the NFL reigns when it comes to betting, more money was bet on LSUAlabama than any NFL game. Alabama was a 2-1 favorite to win the game so most fans put their money on LSU.  LSU won 46-41 in a thriller.  LSU and Ohio State are now 2-1 favorites to win the national championship. 
  1. It does not appear Saquon Barkley is fully recovered from his high ankle sprain. In the last two games, he has gained a total of 29 yards, with just one yard coming on 13 carries this past week against the Jets.
  1. If NBA basketball is beginning to show up on your radar, please note that after a 5-0 start, the 76ers lost three in a row. Ben Simmons is banged up and Joel Embiid was suspended.  Right now, they are barely one of the top 10 teams in the league.
  1. District XI championships will be decided this week on RCN-TV. Friday night features Parkland taking on Nazareth for the 6A championship.  Nazareth last won a District title in 2011 and Parkland won the next six straight before Freedom won last year.  On Saturday, at 7:00pm it’s the 4A final with Central Catholic traveling to Northern Lehigh to take on Pottsville. Saturday afternoon at 12:30pm, Lafayette entertains Colgate on RCN-TV.  See the blog. 

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 5-8)  (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 98-48-1  (67%) 

PITTSBURGH

PHILADELPHIA

JETS

DALLAS

NEW ORLEANS

CAROLINA

INDIANAPOLIS

MINNESOTA

BUFFALO

BALTIMORE

 SAN FRANCISCO

OAKLAND

RAMS

KANSAS CITY

 

 

 

 

Birds Win the East

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

That’s right – the Eagles will be the NFC East champs!  Alright – maybe this is just wishful thinking, BUT the Eagles went to 5-4 after the win over the Bears this past Sunday.  Admittedly, it was not always pretty as the Birds left plenty of points on the table in the first half.  Too many field goals and not enough touchdowns, but a win is a win in the NFL – just ask the Dolphins!

Here is why they will win the NFC East:

They are finally getting healthier.   Darren Sproles came back and so did cornerback Avonte Maddox.  DT Tim Jernigan played as did safety Andrew Sendejo.  That leaves just Jason Peters and Nigel Bradham still on the sidelines.  With a bye week this week, maybe they will all be back for the Patriots and/or the Seahawks.  Fortunately, both those games are at home and, after yesterday, the Patriots do not look invincible.

The toughest part of their season is over.  They will play Washington, Miami, and the Giants twice.  And their fate could rest with a home game in Week 16 against the Cowboys.  That could be the game to truly determine the Division champion.

Carson Wentz is healthy.  He has certainly been hindered by the lack of quality wide receivers (even Alshon Jeffery dropped passes he should have caught on Sunday), but he is throwing the ball with accuracy, has found his favorite receivers in Ertz and Goedert, scrambles as well as most, and always wins the “quarterback sneak” battle.

The running game is excellent. Jordan Howard has been a real find and Miles Sanders is becoming better and better every week.  Howard gets the tough yards and Sanders, with his ability to both run and catch the ball, is their most dangerous ball carrier in the open spaces.

The defensive line and linebackers almost make up for the weak secondary.  This group stops the run, pressures the quarterback, and plays extremely aggressively.  If they can keep the pressure on the QB, the secondary will be helped immensely.

The coaching staff is very competent.  With the injuries the Eagles have had being 5-4 right now does not seem so bad.  The team plays hard with plenty of emotion, takes chances because of the coaches’ confidence, and plays as a unit.  Both the defense and offense can only get better the rest of the season if they stay healthy.

Ergo (I haven’t used that word since college), the Eagles WILL win the NFC East.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. What are today’s athletes thinking? After a terrible performance by Cleveland Browns safety Jermaine Whitehead, a tweet criticized his play (rightfully so).  He responded with a tweet filled with profanity and threatening comments.  Did he really think there would be no consequences to that Tweet?  He was let go by the Browns on Monday morning. 
  1. There are plenty of poor football teams in the NFL and most thought the Dolphins were the worst. And then the Jets stumble into the conversation by losing to Miami.    The Dolphins methodically reduced the quality of their roster to bolster their draft choices in the next two seasons.  Now, it appears the Jets did it without trying!  That, also, hurts the Dolphins – now Cincinnati is in the lead for the #1 draft pick. 
  1. Nick Foles (remember him?) should be back for the Jaguars next game. Jacksonville has a bye this week and Foles practiced this past week, but did not play.  He should be ready for the next game.
  1. Was Lamar Jackson of the Ravens the better quarterback of the night when he beat Tom Brady’s Patriots 37-20? Jackson became the youngest QB to defeat a team with an 8-0 or better record.  Baltimore matched all of the offensive TDs (4) that the Patriots had given up all year.
  1. District XI playoffs continue this week on RCN-TV. Friday night features a double header with Parkland visiting Freedom at 7:00pm followed by EastonNazareth at 9:30pm.  On Saturday at 7:00pm it’s a 4A semifinal with Central Catholic traveling to Northwestern.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 9-5)  (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 93-40-1  70%) 

OAKLAND

KANSAS CITY

BUFFALO

TAMPA BAY

GIANTS

NEW ORLEANS

BALTIMORE

GREEN BAY

DETROIT

INDIANAPOLIS

RAMS

MINNESOTA

 SAN FRANCISCO

 

Boring or Not?

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

If you watch our high school and Lafayette College football games, you realize that my announcing analyst REALLY knows his football. Mike Joseph loves the game and is an avid fan of all levels, including the NFL. He is slowly becoming disenchanted with the professional game. I should let him explain:

“College offenses are ruining NFL football.  If you’re a true fan of the NFL, there is no doubt that most offenses are struggling to move the football. Turnovers are up, penalties are up and there is a widening gap between the elite QBs in the NFL and the rest of the league.  My advice is to enjoy the likes of Brady, Brees, Rodgers, and Roethlisberger as long as you can. These QBs have accounted for more playoff wins than all other QBs starting in the NFL combined. Mahomes, Wilson, Wentz, and Newton are the closest things to successful spread offense QBs because they have learned to throw first and run second.  The majority of college QBs are ill-equipped to navigate treacherous NFL waters. The spread offense is in simplest terms, basketball on field turf. These no-huddle, up-tempo offenses are NOT training QBs to take snaps under center, read defenses properly, understand progressions, and have a full understanding of what it takes to succeed in the NFL. Most college offensive coordinators control every aspect of play calling up to the second the ball is snapped. Plays are so scripted that QBs are instructed to read one defender and place that defender in conflict based on the RPO (run, pass, option). This is becoming a common term amongst players, coaches and now even commentators.  The RPO, along with the Zone Read, are major contributing factors to the inability of QBs to drop back and throw from the pocket, because they lack the training of reading basic coverages. “Get the ball out,” are common terms used by all coaches in today’s game. Thus the increase in teams throwing the ball sideways in lieu of pressing the ball down the field on intermediate routes. We have all heard the terms bubble screen, speed sweep, 3 over 2, the 50/50 ball, and of course the Zone Read option. Plain and simple, running QBs don’t last in the shark-infested waters of the NFL. Case in point: RG III, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Carson Wentz, Alex Smith, Teddy Bridgewater, and so many others have been victims of incredible, out of the pocket hits that led directly to injury.

Lasting offensive success in the NFL is and always will center on the ability of a quarterback to throw from the pocket. Developing the unique talent to obtain pre-snap reads and understanding the nuances of defenses, so complex nowadays, must become part of the learning curve for future QBs. Overall viewership of the NFL is down and in college football is up. Why? Because audiences want speed and tempo and scoring.

I love football and that will never change, however it is becoming increasingly boring for me. Show me all the Super Bowl trophies from Zone Read, Dual threat quarterbacks and tomorrow I will sell you a bridge leading to the Hall of Shame.” Who am I to disagree?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. Joe Girardi should be a great fit for the Phillies. He won as a player, as a coach and as a manager. He has the perfect temperament for both the team and the town. Now, can he bring a championship to Philadelphia?

2. On Sunday, Tiger Woods tied Sam Snead for the most career PGA wins ever when he won in Japan. Both now have 82. You may be wondering who are the next three – #3 is Jack Nicklaus with 73; #4 is Ben Hogan with 64; and #5 is Arnold Palmer with 62. Byron Nelson (52) and Billy Casper (51) are the next two.

3. Penn State has jumped to #5 in the College Football rankings. The magical spot is to get to #4 or better. They might just get there with a win this week over undefeated Minnesota. Both teams are 8-0. Ohio State is #3 right now.  Penn State plays them on November 23.

4. I had a good week with my picks, except for those darn Eagles. I only missed two games – the Bears and they missed an easy field goal to win the game at the end. I, once again, missed on the Eagles. I do not think I have made a correct pick on their game this year. They really looked good this week against the Bills after really looking awful the previous week against the Cowboys. I was wrong on both games.

5. Emmaus travels to Freedom on Friday to begin the District XI playoffs and RCN-TV will bring the game LIVE at 7:00PM. That game will be followed by the Easton-Northampton match-up at 9:30PM. It has been a long time
since Northampton has been in this position. They have won nine straight. Lafayette takes on Fordham on Saturday at 12:30PM.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 13-2) (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 84-35-1 71%)

SAN FRANCISCO
HOUSTON
BUFFALO
CAROLINA
PHILADELPHIA
KANSAS CITY
JETS
INDIANAPOLIS
DETROIT
SEATTLE
DENVER
 GREEN BAY
NEW ENGLAND
DALLAS

 

 

District XI HOF

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

On Sunday night, the second class was inducted into the District XI Hall of Fame.  Fourteen inaugural members were welcomed last year and 17 new members were inducted in this, the second year.  Since I have been around a long time (hopefully, not too long), I was very familiar with almost all of the 17 new members.

I covered Jackie Adamshick at Central Catholic where she scored 1,848 points and led her team to two state championships in 2001 and 2002.  She was 1st team All-State in 2002.  She went on to Villanova where she scored 1,372 points, with 703 rebounds.  Villanova was in the NCAA tournament during her time there.

The late Mike Lisetski was the coach for Northampton baseball for 32 years and was an assistant football coach at Northampton for 24 years.  He won nine baseball championships and three District championships.  He was just as well known for being a PIAA official and later an NFL official for 18 years.  Mike officiated the first Super Bowl in 1966.

Anyone who knows Lehigh Valley basketball knows the name Pete Lisicky of Whitehall.  He still is their all-time leading scorer with 1,974 points.  His teams won three EPC titles and two District championships.  He was voted one of Pennsylvania’s top 150 high school players of all time.  Pete went on to an outstanding career at Penn State and 11 years playing professional basketball overseas.

Bill Paulik was the very first basketball coach at Salisbury and remained in that capacity for 30 years.  His teams won 539 games, 20 league titles, and four District championships.  His 1992-93 teams were undefeated.  His 1983 team won 26 games.

The most intense coach I came across was Don Rohn.  As a wrestler, Rohn won two PIAA state championships.  He went on to win an AAU National Championship and was a three-time NCAA All-American.  I best remember him, however, as the wrestling coach at Northampton.  His teams won eight straight EPC titles; three MVC championships; five District dual meet titles; and six state team titles.   He was named coach of the year a total of 12 times by three different groups.

Speaking of intense coaches, Dick Schmidt ranks right up there.  He coached at Dieruff for 15 years and switched to coaching the Bethlehem Catholic girls for eight years.  He won at both places – in one, four-year stretch at Dieruff, his teams won four consecutive EPC titles and four consecutive District titles making it to the PIAA semifinals twice.  He went on to win four District titles with the Beca girls.

I was very familiar with some of the others even though they were not part of  television coverage – Chanelle Price, a track star at Easton and Tennessee; Jack Wabby, a 19-year chairman of the District XI: and Betsy Wilson, the First Lady of District XI female athletics.

The District XI Hall of Fame was a long time coming, but much needed.  Whitehall Athletic Director Bob Hartman deserves much of the credit for getting it all started.  The good news is we have just scratched the surface of those who deserve admission to this prestigious group.  Certainly, there are many, many more to come.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. How about the atmosphere at State College on Saturday night? The “white-out” was extremely impressive and the football game was equally thrilling.  A dropped pass in the end zone by a Michigan wide receiver would have tied the game.  Penn State has moved into the #6 spot in the national polls.  Michigan State is next.  Ohio State is November 23. 
  1. Have you watched Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers this year? He and Tom Brady are the calmest quarterbacks in the pocket you will ever see.  They are so experienced it is as if they know exactly where the onrushing defensive players are all the time.  Rodgers threw for five TDs on Sunday and ran for one.  Some players are worth every penny the team pays them. 
  1. Baseball needs to find a way to shorten the games, particularly in the post season. It was not unusual for the YankeesAstros to go four hours or more in what should have been a riveting series for the television viewer.  It is hard to convince any fan to set aside 4-5 hours to watch a baseball game.  The sad part is the games were outstanding, but how many missed the end? 
  1. The Eagles are fortunate that they are in the NFC East. The Giants and the Redskins are not good so the race will be between the Cowboys and the Philadelphia.  Even though the Cowboys outplayed them badly on Sunday night, there are plenty of games left.  Dallas has a bye this week while the Eagles take on the 5-1 Bills.  This might just be a “must win”. 
  1. Emmaus travels to Parkland on Friday and RCN-TV will bring the game across the state on PCN. The game will be broadcast LIVE at 7:00PM.  That game will be followed by the Easton-Nazareth match-up at 9:30PM.  A Nazareth win and they will be the EPC South Division champs.

Lafayette takes on Bucknell on Saturday at 3:30PM.  Then, it’s Freedom-Liberty for bragging rights in Bethlehem.  Tune in at 7:00PM.


GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 10-4)  (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 71-33-1  68%)
 

MINNESOTA

DETROIT

TENNESSEE

CHICAGO

SEATTLE

JACKSONVILLE

BUFFALO

RAMS

NEW ORLEANS

HOUSTON

SAN FRANCISCO

INDIANAPOLIS

NEW ENGLAND

 GREEN BAY

PITTSBURGH

 

 

Who Wins NFC East?

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Well, we are six games into the NFL season and what do we know? I think we know that we didn’t know much about this year. Who would have believed that the Chiefs, Cowboys, and Rams would currently be on losing streaks? Would you believe that the Saints and the Panthers could both be on winning streaks AFTER they lost their starting quarterbacks?

Thank goodness (or of all teams why them?) the New England Patriots just continue to win, although even they haven’t looked all that invincible despite going 6-0. And teams like the 49’ers (5-0), Bills (4-1), and Texans (4-2) are surprising us.  That leads me to the NFC East – no team has a winning record! Dallas and the Eagles are 3-3; the Giants are 2-4; and the Redskins are 1-5 (they replaced their coach this week and barely beat the hapless Dolphins). So who wins the Division?

The Cowboys looked great the first three weeks against weak teams. They have looked anything like a team guaranteed the NFC East title in a mediocre (and that’s kind) division. “America’s team” is now mired in a three-game losing streak. They even lost this past week to the New York Jets (1-4). There are rumblings of discontent about their head coach and the team just seems lethargic at times during the game. Not many positives coming out of Dallas for a team that started 3-0.

Then, there is the Eagles. They have serious problems in their secondary. This past Sunday against the Vikings, the secondary was not competitive. It became obvious that Rasoul Douglas and Sidney Jones cannot cover the top receivers in the NFL without help. Will the injured Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox solve the problem? Jalen Mills still hasn’t played. There is no deep threat on the offensive side, so Carson Wentz is stuck throwing short passes, primarily to his two tight ends. This means if you “get behind the sticks”, drives stall. This adds
up to losses.

The Giants do not look like contenders, even though they are improved and the presence of Saquon Barkley (expected back next game) could certainly make them dangerous. Their offensive line does not look at all like championship material. If the Giants win this year, the division should be ashamed of themselves.

Then, there is the Redskins. We now know they are better than the Dolphins, but so, too, are the other 30 teams in the league. Enough said. It is hard to say who will win the NFC East. It may be easier to say which team will lose it less.

Eagles’ fans should not get too discouraged just yet. Remember, no one else in that division is very good either.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. Quarterbacks are often given too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses, but the performance by Sam Darnold of the previously winless New York Jets over the Dallas Cowboys seems to disprove the adage. Darnold, who missed three games due to mononucleosis, passed for 383 yards and two TDs. The Jets looked like a different team. Give credit to the quarterback.

2. Don’t bet on the Atlanta Falcons. They are snake bitten. This past week, they fought their way back to within a point needing only an extra point to tie the game. Of course, they missed it and lost to the Cardinals. They were in the Super Bowl three years ago and now they are 1-5.

3. I am not a Yankees fan, but baseball needed them in the playoffs. Television was hoping for a Yankees-Dodgers World Series, I’m sure, but the Yankees-Astros series will be every bit as entertaining for the Division championship.  The walk-off home run by Carlos Correa on Sunday night in the 11 th inning showcased baseball at its best.

4. When there is a 2-1 vote, 2 usually wins, right? Not in the case of Gabe Kapler, the former Phillies manager. John Middleton, the Phillies’ managing partner, overruled his president and his general manager, both of whom wanted to keep Kapler. The Phillies are now looking for a manager. It’s good to be king!

5. Parkland travels to Easton with District XI ramifications this weekend on RCN-TV. The game will be broadcast LIVE at 7:00PM.

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 8-6) (YEAR-TO-DATE) – 61-29-1 68%)

KANSAS CITY
GIANTS
HOUSTON
BUFFALO
MINNESOTA
GREEN BAY
JACKSONVILLE
RAMS
SAN FRANCISCO
TENNESSEE
SEATTLE
NEW ORLEANS
PHILADELPHIA
NEW ENGLAND

 

 

What Happens Now?

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The NCAA has a huge mess on its hands.  This past week, the governor of California signed into law a bill that now allows California student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or image.  They also can hire agents to represent them.  It’s called the Fair Pay to Play Act.  Several other states have said they would also pass a similar law.  Pennsylvania is one of them.

The NCAA strictly prohibits their athletes to be compensated.  So what happens now?

The quandary: Today, if you go into any store and buy a jersey, a poster, a mug, etc., with a player’s name, number, or face on it, the team or university derives some sort of royalty for that purchase.  The student-athlete receives nothing.  Obviously, the case can be made that the athlete is, in most cases, receiving a full scholarship and a complete education for his efforts.  Does the athlete deserve more or are they getting enough?

All students have the ability to work after-school hours in order to make some money.  Should we now consider athletes who “work” every day as a member of a team someone who should have the right to make money, if there is a demand for their wares directly associated with the university?

Sports agents at the college level are often portrayed as sleazy people who sneak around in the shadows of NCAA athletics.  Now, a student-athlete risks everything if they are lured into an illegal arrangement with an agent to gain financial rewards.  Often, these stories center around students who come from poor backgrounds and the lure of financial gain is quite enticing even at the risk of losing eligibility and their scholarship.  Should they now openly be allowed to hire an agent to help them get the best deal for their talent?

Colleges, universities, and the NCAA make billions of dollars on their product.  Coaches get paid millions at major sports institutions. Shouldn’t the athletes have the opportunity to share in those funds?

And, finally, will this law make these young people more athlete than student?  Will they spend more time setting up appearances and endorsement opportunities that they spend in the classroom?  Will academics take a back seat to the now-legal lure of making as much money as one can in the short time available to a student-athlete?

There are plenty of questions with, I’m sure, plenty of different answers.  And once again, it will be the courts that will decide the issue.  What is your opinion?  How would you rule in this case? For the athletes or for the universities?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Interesting move by the Phillies this week. They fired their pitching coach, Chris Young.  This makes me believe that they will not fire Gabe Kapler. You would have thought that would happen first and the new manager would decide on staff.  By the time you read this, I could be totally wrong and Kapler will be gone.  But, unless a more attractive manager says yes to the Phillies, Kapler will be the man. 
  1. It was a “good news-bad news” situation for the Gruden family after this weekend’s NFL games. Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders upset the Chicago Bears on Sunday putting the Raiders at 3-2 for the season.  Jon’s brother, Jay Gruden, the head coach of the Washington Redskins, was fired after losing to the Patriots 33-7. He became the fifth coach fired by team owner Dan Snyder but he did last longer than any of the others. 
  1. Despite an outstanding performance by the Eagles’ defense against the woeful Jets, the offense looked pretty bad this past Sunday. They looked nothing like the offense that did their job the previous week against the Packers.  But a win is a win, I guess. 
  1. Watching the Cowboys on Sunday against the Packers, I felt they were pretty listless throughout much of the game. There was no spark at all until they finally put together some scoring plays.  There is something wrong in Dallas. 
  1. There are three high school games this weekend on RCN-TV. Friday night features Emmaus at Freedom at 7:00PM followed by Allen at Northampton at 9:30PM.  On Saturday night, we will bring you Easton at Bethlehem Catholic.  The action starts at 7:00pm on RCN-TV.

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK – 11-3)  (YEAR-TO-DATE – 53-23-1  70%) 

NEW ENGLAND

PHILADELPHIA

DALLAS

CAROLINA

BALTIMORE

SEATTLE

KANSAS CITY

NEW ORLEANS

WASHINGTON

RAMS

ATLANTA

DENVER

CHARGERS

GREEN BAY

 

 

Scholarships Haven’t Helped

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

After five weeks of football, the Patriot League is 7-24 against independent teams.  Of those seven wins, only two would be considered quality wins: Holy Cross over New Hampshire and Fordham over Richmond.  The other five were not impressive, nor unexpected.

Three teams, Colgate, Lafayette, and Lehigh, who have won the most championships in Patriot League history (22) are collectively 1-13 after this past week.  That one win was by Lehigh over Merrimack by a 10-3 score.  Merrimack is not considered a football powerhouse by any stretch.

So what is wrong here?  Since the advent of scholarships in the Patriot League in 2012, not much has improved.  And, in fact, it could be argued that things have gotten much worse.  That was certainly not the goal when the presidents allowed football scholarships.

I cannot say it better than an anonymous writer offered up in October, 2015, in a blog titled, “What’s Wrong with the Patriot League?”  May I suggest you read the entire piece?

http://georgetownfootball.blogspot.com/2018/10/whats-wrong-with-patriot-league.html?m=1

The solutions offered are:

  1. Address the scholarship rules
  2. Revisit redshirting
  3. Look at scheduling and support
  4. Consider expansion

If you are at all interested, you should read the entire blog.  It is lengthy, but it is clear, well-researched, and to the point.  I cannot offer up a better conclusion than the author does:

“This isn’t the Ivy League.  Either the PL must grow or it runs the risk of atrophy and a slow death.

Because in the end, what’s wrong with the Patriot League is almost entirely self-inflicted, which is both hopeful as well as challenging.  Leadership, not platitudes, will set a course for its stability and future.”

I hope someone is listening.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Lafayette’s Joe Maddon is out of a job. After five seasons and leading the Cubs to the World Series Championship in 2016 (their first since 1908), Maddon was fired after the Cubs’ final game.  He will be a valuable “free agent”, for sure (perhaps, Philadelphia?) 
  1. There were plenty of other major league managers let go this past weekend – Clint Hurdle of the Pirates, Ned Yost of the Royals, Andy Green of the Padres, and Bruce Bochy of the Giants (retired). Will Gabe Kapler of the Phillies join the list shortly?  It did not happen on Sunday so he might hang in there.  I doubt it. 
  1. Since the media isn’t often depicted favorably anymore, there was a good story out of St. Louis on Sunday.  A videographer collapsed in the Chicago Cubs’ dugout and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer, Derrick Goold, performed CPR and, according to medical officials, saved his life.  Goold was a former lifeguard and Eagle Scout. 
  1. What a week in the NFL – there were upsets galore: Eagles, Tennessee, Oakland, Cleveland, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans. All in all nine underdogs won. I knew my picks were going along too nicely! 
  1. The best of the Colonial League highlights our schedule this Friday night when once-beaten Northwestern takes on undefeated Southern Lehigh followed by once-beaten Freedom taking on undefeated Easton. The action starts at 7:00pm on RCN-TV.

 

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK –8-7)  (YEAR-TO-DATE – 42-20-1  68%) 

RAMS

PHILADELPHIA

BALTIMORE

CHICAGO

ARIZONA

CAROLINA

MINNESOTA

NEW ENGLAND

NEW ORLEANS

HOUSTON

BUFFALO

CHARGERS

GREEN BAY

KANSAS CITY

SAN FRANCISCO