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Rumors abound in Indianapolis that Peyton Manning will be out for the entire 2011-12 season.  Manning, the story goes, has a “floating bone” in his neck. This blogger heard the rumor 4th-hand.  The story goes that this news originates from a staff member in the Chicago hospital where Manning twice had neck surgery.

The latest surgery was on May 24, 2011.  Peyton Manning plays quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, and has won the league’s Most Valuable Player award multiple years.  Un-retired quarterback Kerry Collins started the preseason game versus Cincinnati last Thursday.

The rumor was all the rage at one fantasy football draft  in Fishers.

“Since the Colts failed to develop the run-based double tight end offense that will accentuate a declining quarterback such as Kerry Collins’ skill set, they’ll be lucky to get 5 wins,” said fantasy football drafter Brady Glenn.

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Many thanks to my friend Brandon, who directed me to this great article Some Author Commentary And Deleted Scenes From GQ’s Marvin Harrison Story.

 You’ve still got a strong case that Harrison was the shooter in April 2008, just from the physical evidence alone — the gun, the casings, the ballistics tests — and also from Harrison’s own words in the statement he gave to police. These are evidential luxuries that cops consider themselves lucky to get. As one detective told me, “The physical evidence in this case was stronger than in 85 percent of cases I’ve won.”

Two great articles explore in great detail, the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Dwight Dixon and Robert Nixon.

The ESPN article You Have No Idea, shows that Marvin’s past is not as squeaky clean as his reputation had been.

Strike One

On Jan. 4, 2003, before kickoff of an AFC wild-card game at the Meadowlands, Harrison was catching passes from Manning as Jets ball boys shagged punts from New York’s Matt Turk. One of them, a 23-year-old Long Islander named Matt Prior, threw a ball downfield that bounced near Harrison. According to a New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority report—and two people on the field—No. 88 felt the toss violated his personal space. He charged Prior, bumping him in the chest.

“You threw the ball at me!” Harrison screamed. “You’re a professional! You should do your job better than that!” Everyone on the field froze. Prior asked Harrison to back away. Instead, Harrison grabbed Prior by the throat and lifted him off the ground.

Strike Two

That wasn’t the only time Harrison drew looks from law enforcement. On the evening of Feb. 10, 2005, three nights before the Pro Bowl, he and two men were walking along a row of stores at the Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel in Honolulu. According to a police report—and a witness—Harrison was talking on his cell when a group of teenage fans asked for his autograph. Harrison declined, and when the fans kept pestering him, he and his friends turned on them. The Pro Bowler took a swing at one fan, then grabbed him by the throat and put an arm around his neck. After more scuffling, Harrison and his friends ran off, leaving one of the teenagers beaten. “I was walking about three feet behind these kids,” the witness told The Magazine. “Harrison and his friends acted like real punks.”

Now, Gentleman’s Quarterly gives us a much more in-depth look in the new article The Dirtiest Player.

Was it only last season that Marvin Harrison was still catching TD passes for Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts? Now, in the wake of a brazen but mysterious Philadelphia gunfight—many details of which are reported here for the first time—the man who holds the NFL record for most receptions in a season may yet find himself with a permanent record of a different sort.

Whether or not Harrison will ever face a court room remains to be seen, but if he does not, You Have No Idea sums it up nicely:

Meanwhile, around the Philly courthouse, the case still has buzz. “What do you think about the Harrison case?” a clerk recently asked a cop in the case. The officer did not hesitate to answer.

“Looks like Marvin caught another pass.”

The Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots played a great game last night on Sunday night football, in the national spotlight. It was billed as the game of the year, and as Bob Costas said, “The game of the year was actually the game of the year.”

As impressive as a 17 point come back to win the game against the New England Patriots is, many are saying that Bill Belichick simply gave the game away, by going for the win on 4th down and 2, instead of punting the ball away.

Although the vast majority of analysts are saying that Bill Belichick made a horrendous decision to go for it on 4th down and 2 yards to go last night, some mathematical models are suprisingly contradictory.

Here are two different models that both agree with Belichick going for it.

http://www.advancednflstats.com/2009/11/belichicks-4th-down-decision-vs-colts.html

You can play with the numbers any way you like, but it’s pretty hard to come up with a realistic combination of numbers that make punting the better option. At best, you could make it a wash.

Wayne Winston, a professor at Indiana University Kelly School of Business, who teaches Excel modeling agrees. Winston modeled it slightly differently, but with the same results:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-winston/belichick-made-the-right_b_358871.html

Bill Belichick is one of my least favorite people in sports. I love the Colts and do not like the Patriots. The announcers were unanimous in saying the Patriots were crazy to go for it on 4th down in the Colts-Patriots game. I hate to say it, but I think Belichick’s move might have made sense.

I find it very interesting that of the 3 articles I found defending Belichick, 2 of them were based on simple mathematical models, and after reading them, and I have changed my mind, and agree with their conclusions.

Edit: Just noticed another article that explains the first article in more layman’s terms: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-ma/belichick-was-right_b_358653.html

History

Throughout all of my college football memories, Indiana University (no, NOT the University of Indiana, no such thing) has rarely, if ever been competitive in the Big Ten.  They were so bad when I went to school there in Bloomington, that I only attended one game to ‘check it out’.  And the stadium was not staying empty for lack of trying; the dorms would post free football tickets on the bulletin boards, and they would lay untouched all week until they put up next game’s free tickets.  I am used to  Indiana going 2-0 playing no name schools, then right before the Big Ten season starts, we’ll lose big to someone like North Carolina, then if we’re lucky, win 1 more game the rest of the season.

There were sparks when Randle El was the quarterback, but the bottom line is that they have only been to one bowl game in the last 16 years, and they got trounced.

However, last week, they looked very good last week against Akron, and I started to get a glimmer of hope that we might be competitive in the Big Ten this year.  As I type this, I am watching the Michigan game, and I think we have a very promising team.  Might even be competitive in the Big Ten.  Might even get more national exposure and get better recruits.  Might even start being competitive in the Big Ten every year.  Might even get ranked nationally!

Okay, before we get too excited, let’s look at where we are at realistically.

Positives

  • Multi-faceted offense:  They can run a traditional offensive package, but will also throw the the wildcat offense, and a triple option package at you.  This makes us harder to play and game plan defense against.  I really think we could also be successful exclusively running a spread offense like Drew Brees did at Purdue, as well.
  • Physical Defense:  Our pass rush has caused one interception so far.  Just now as I’m writing this, we caused a fumble.
  • Solid Quarterback:  Our QB has a heck of an arm, and can throw it accurately 50 yards in the air.
  • Good special teams threat:  Our special teams kick return team is great, and we often end up with great field position.
  • Score off of turnovers:  We got points off both of the MI turnovers that I saw, a must!
  • Offensive play calling is very solid

Things to work on

  • Too many penalties:  Penalties are killing us.  Several drive killing false starts in the packed Big House today.  Need more poise against all that noise.
  • Must score touchdowns in the red zone:  Three times we have gotten deep in the red zone and come away with only field goals.
  • Special teams defense:  MI is running it back to the 35 or 40 far too often.

Going forward

I was chatting with my friend Rich on the phone, as we both watched the Indiana at Michigan football game today.  I remarked that it would be really cool to build a national football program at Indiana.  Rich recommended following in the steps of Bobby Bowden.  When Bowden came to Florida State, he said, they were a no name school.  So Bowden started scheduling early season games against top 10 teams, and would travel on the road to their place.  They got trounced, but they got on TV.  Soon, when Bowden would call kids to recruit them, at least they knew who Florida State was.  Bowden, of course, parlayed that national exposure and name recognition into two national championships and a perennial contender.

Now I didn’t research the accuracy of Rich’s comments, but I don’t think it matters even if he just made them up.  I think this is a solid model for improving recruits, and building a national program.  Schedule tough teams early and often

Can Indiana build a nationally competitive football program?  Can Bill Lynch be our Bobby Bowden?  Only time will tell, but at least for now, yours truly is hopeful.