Saturday, January 26, 2013

Djokovic Wins Three Straight Australian Open Titles

"Pressure is a privilege in a way and a big challenge for every professional athlete," said Djokovic. "It's just a matter of understanding it, and maturing as a player and getting that necessary experience to use it at the right moments to cope. It's a privilege because it means that you are doing something that counts."
Novak Djokovic might have become the first man to win three consecutive Australian Open titles in 46 years, but the World No.1 is already targeting the only grand slam to have got away.

Djokovic produced a dazzling display to come from behind and defeat Andy Murray 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 in Melbourne Sunday to claim a sixth grand slam title.

Nine other men had won consecutive Australian titles in the Open era, but none three straight years. One of them was Andre Agassi, who presented Djokovic with the trophy.

A year ago, Djokovic began his season with an epic 5-hour, 53-minute five-set win over Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, the longest Grand Slam final.

The Serbian, who defeated Murray in the final in Melbourne two years ago, has already won at Wimbledon and at the U.S. Open, but it's the clay courts of Paris which have not yet witnessed a Djokovic triumph.

But with seven-time winner and clay court king Rafael Nadal still struggling to prove his fitness, Djokovic is setting his sights on lifting the famous Coupe de Mousquetaires for the very first time in the French capital this May.

"I went to the finals last year and had a great match against Rafa, but he's always the favorite on that surface and he's the ultimate player to beat on clay.

"But I think if I continue on playing well, stay healthy, I can have a chance."

While Djokovic is already looking towards future success, his latest triumph came following a titanic tussle against the man who had beaten him at last year's U.S. Open final.

Murray, fresh from winning Olympic gold and claiming his maiden grand slam victory at Flushing Meadows, had hoped to become the first man in the modern era to win his second major championship immediately after his first.

The world No. 3 struggled to beat 17-time major winner Roger Federer in five sets in the semifinals Friday night, and still had the bad blisters on his feet to show for it in the final. Murray took the first set on the tiebreak, but faded after his failure to convert three break points at the start of the second.

Both men served well with over two hours and 52 minutes of action passing before a break point was finally converted as Djokovic struck.

With the Serb 4-3 ahead in the second set, Murray faltered on his serve, allowing Djokovic to break with a powerful forehand into the corner.

It was a pivotal moment with Djokovic going on to win eight of the following nine games, while Murray began to wilt under the pain of pressure and exhaustion.

In the end, Djokovic cruised home to make it six grand slam titles and move level with the likes of Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Don Budge and Jack Crawford in the all-time list.

"I knew it was going to be physically demanding," he told reporters.

"So I needed to hang in there. "There were a few turning points in the match. Maybe one of them was the second game of the second set when I was 0-40 against the breeze.

"He missed a few shots and I managed to get a crucial hold. After that I felt mentally a little bit lighter and more confident on the court than I had done in the first hour or so.

"I went for my shots in the third and fourth and came to the net quite often.

"I needed to be the one who dictated the play and I'm really glad that I played my best."

Murray broke the 76-year drought for British men at the majors when he won the U.S. Open last year and said he'll leave Melbourne slightly more upbeat than he has after defeats here in previous years.

"The last few months have been the best tennis of my life. I mean, I made Wimbledon final, won the Olympics, won the U.S. Open. You know, I was close here as well," he said. "No one's ever won a slam (immediately) after winning their first one. It's not the easiest thing to do. And I got extremely close.

"So, you know, I have to try and look at the positives of the last few months, and I think I'm going the right direction."

More information:
"'We educate the patients about consuming gluten-free ancient whole grains. These include amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, uncontaminated organic oats, quinoa, sorghum, teff and rice. This gives the gastrointestinal tract a chance to start repairing itself.' It needs help, and probiotics will aid restoration of the stomach's healthy bacteria and digestive enzymes, and also protect against further damage, Everard says."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scot Loeffler Named New Hokies Offensive Coordinator

"The fronts are going to tell you what the secondaries are going to do because the secondaries lie. It's imperative that quarterbacks become very, very good at reading fronts. Once they do, they'll lock into what should be the right play."
Washington Post:
When former Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr talks about new Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who served as Carr’s quarterbacks coach from 2002 to 2007, the first words out of his mouth are about Loeffler’s ability to get the best out of his signal-callers.

Carr still marvels at the improvement former quarterback John Navarre showed in 2003, when he led the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl after just one year spent in a Loeffler-led meeting room. Loeffler’s charges aren’t told what to do, Carr said. Instead, Loeffler embraces the Socratic method, using rapid-fire questions to teach his charges the exact reads and audibles they should be using on a given play.

That, though, wasn’t the part of Loeffler’s tenure that caught Carr by surprise. It had more to do with what Loeffler did off campus.

“He did a phenomenal job recruiting,” Carr said in a recent telephone interview. “I just think he’s the kind of guy, if you want to be a great quarterback, he’s a guy that can help you develop your abilities.”

This, it seems, is the most overlooked part of Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer’s decision to overhaul his offensive coaching staff last week. While it remains to be seen what sort of scheme the Hokies will run next season, they have made another significant upgrade on the recruiting trail.

Virginia Tech had already seen its recruiting fortunes surge since Beamer decided to bring back his son, Shane, two seasons ago. The Hokies have oral commitments from three prospects ranked among the top 100 in the country by Rivals (Good Counsel cornerback Kendall Fuller, defensive lineman Wyatt Teller of Bealeton and defensive back Holland Fisher from Midlothian) in 2013. It’s the first time since Rivals began its top 100 rankings in 2002 that Virginia Tech has had more than two.

By transitioning former offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring back to his old role of recruiting coordinator, Frank Beamer also kept one of his best recruiters of the last decade on staff. Stinespring is responsible for luring highly touted players like DeAngelo Hall, Vince Hall, Daryl Tapp, David Wilson, Logan Thomas and Trey Edmunds to Blacksburg.

But Beamer has now added reinforcements in Loeffler and new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, and their track records suggest Virginia Tech’s recruiting reach could extend farther than the Baltimore to Atlanta corridor the Hokies usually mine for talent.

Loeffler persuaded future NFL quarterbacks like Chad Henne and Ryan Mallett to come to Michigan, and was also the primary recruiter when current Florida tight end Jordan Reed committed to Auburn. Henne came from Pennsylvania – “not far from State College,” Carr noted – and Mallett was from Texas.

Grimes, meanwhile, should pay immediate dividends in terms of recruiting offensive linemen. Over the past six years at Auburn and Colorado before that, he has been the primary recruiter for 16 offensive linemen rated as a four-star prospect or higher by Rivals, and they have come from all over the map (Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Colorado, California, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia to be exact).

New wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead has never been a full-time assistant before, but he continues the youth movement at Virginia Tech. At 32, the former Stanford assistant is the youngest member of Beamer’s coaching staff, which has seen its average age drop from 50.1 to 41.6 over the past two years.

Beamer has parted ways with former quarterbacks coach and play-caller Mike O’Cain, offensive line coach Curt Newsome and wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman.

Newsome is expected to accept a similar position at James Madison and Sherman was announced as Purdue’s wide receivers coach Friday. O'Cain has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Charleston Southern head coaching job.

The Hokies finished No. 83 in the country yards per game (386.7) and scoring (25.1 points) this season. They did set multiple school records the previous two years.

More information:
» Scott Loeffler has impressive track record
» QB Coach Mike O'Cain Fired

Monday, January 21, 2013

Radiohead - "Creep" (1992)

"Creep" is a song by the English alternative rock band Radiohead. Radiohead released "Creep" as their debut single in 1992, and it later appeared on their first album, Pablo Honey (1993). During its initial release, "Creep" was not a chart success. However, upon re-release in 1993, it became a worldwide hit. Attendees of Radiohead's early gigs often exhibited little interest in the band's other songs, causing the band to react against "Creep" and play it less often during the mid-to-late 1990s. In 1998, halfway through their OK Computer tour, the band dropped the song from set lists altogether. "Creep" was not played live again until 2001, but it has since reappeared several times on the band's live sets.

According to Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood, Thom Yorke wrote "Creep" while studying at Exeter University in the late 1980s. Guitarist Jonny Greenwood said the song was inspired by a girl that Yorke had followed around who showed up unexpectedly during a show by the band.

According to Yorke, "Creep" tells the tale of an inebriated man who tries to get the attention of a woman to whom he is attracted by following her around. In the end, he lacks the self-confidence to face her and feels he subconsciously is her. When asked about "Creep" in 1993, Yorke said, "I have a real problem being a man in the '90s... Any man with any sensitivity or conscience toward the opposite sex would have a problem. To actually assert yourself in a masculine way without looking like you're in a hard-rock band is a very difficult thing to do... It comes back to the music we write, which is not effeminate, but it's not brutal in its arrogance. It is one of the things I'm always trying: To assert a sexual persona and on the other hand trying desperately to negate it."

The G–B–C–Cm chord progression is repeated throughout the whole song, just alternating between arpeggiated chords in the verses and last chorus and loud power chords during the first two choruses. In G major, these may be interpreted as "I–III♯–IV–iv". According to Guy Capuzzo, the ostinato musically portrays "the song's obsessive lyrics, which depict the 'self-lacerating rage of an unsuccessful crush'." For example, the "highest pitches of the ostinato form a prominent chromatic line that 'creeps' up, then down, involving scale degrees while ascending, the lyrics strain towards optimism...descending, the subject sinks back into the throes of self-pity...The guitarist's fretting hand mirrors this contour".

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Swedish House Mafia - "Greyhound" (2012)

Swedish House Mafia will be a Swedish electronic dance music trio consisting of three house disc jockeys and producers, Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso until March,2013. The group officially formed in late 2008. The supergroup placed at number ten on the DJ Magazine Top 100 DJ Poll 2011 and have been called "the faces of mainstream progressive house music." On June 24, 2012, the group announced via their website that their current tour would be their last together.

"Greyhound" is a musical track by Swedish house music group Swedish House Mafia. The track was released worldwide on March 12, 2012 as the third single from the album Until Now, released as a digital download on the iTunes Store. The song was created to promote a new drink for Absolut, Absolut Greyhound.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lance Armstrong Comes Clean on Oprah

"From day one, we always hoped this investigation would bring to a close this troubling chapter in cycling's history and we hope the sport will use this tragedy to prevent it from ever happening again," USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement in October."
In October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released more than 1,000 pages of evidence in doping allegations against Armstrong and his teammates. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the scandal. On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee demanded that he give back the bronze medal he won in 2000.

The charges against Armstrong are all too common in the cycling world. Cyclist Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after failing a drug test. Eighty percent of the Tour de France medalists between 1996 and 2010 have been "similarly tainted by doping," according to the USADA report on Armstrong.

Armstrong, in the first part of the interview, talked about the culture of cycling at the time he competed, telling Winfrey that doping was widespread then and just as much "part of the job" as water bottles and tire pumps. The former cyclist said he didn't view using banned drugs then as cheating. "I viewed it as a level playing field."

Armstrong described his years of denial as "one big lie that I repeated a lot of times." He had races to win and a fairy tale image to keep up.

He reminisced on his storied past of being a hero who overcame cancer, winning the Tour repeatedly, having a happy marriage, children. "It's just this mythic, perfect story, and it isn't true," he said.

Livestrong has not emerged from the scandal unscathed, with Armstrong forced to step down from his role as chairman. The Texan's battle with cancer led him to set up the Livestrong foundation in 1997, which according to its website has raised close to $500 million in the battle against the disease.

The USADA, which tests Olympic athletes for performance-enhancing drugs, similarly described the interview as a "small step in the right direction."

"If he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities," USADA CEO Travis Tygart said.

In closing her interview, Winfrey asked Armstrong a question that left him perplexed.

“Will you rise again?” she said.

Armstrong said: “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s out there.”

Then, as the interview drew to a close, Armstrong said: “The ultimate crime is the betrayal of these people that supported me and believed in me.”

More information:
» CNN: "The Claims, The Attacks, The Legacy"
» CNN: Criminal Charges Unlikely

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rory vs. Tiger

Rory McIlroy has already surpassed Tiger Woods as the world's No. 1 golfer. After sealing a sponsorship deal worth a reported $200 million with Nike, the Northern Irishman has also eclipsed Woods as the highest paid athlete on the company's pay roll.

Golf Balls:
In 1996, Nike signed a 20-year-old amateur golfer named Tiger Woods to a $40 million contract. His responsibilities included heading up a golf equipment line that did not yet exist. Nike Golf was established in 1998 – golf balls were introduced a year later while clubs were introduced in 2002. Advertising behemoth Wieden + Kennedy was in charge of sparking the line with a commercial in 1999. They enlisted Doug Liman of “Swingers” and “The Bourne Identity” fame to direct a Hollywood extravaganza. Instead, what they delivered was an impromptu outtake during a set break that is, by several variables, one of Nike’s best commercials:

Monday, January 14, 2013

NFL Divisional Playoffs

Baltimore  38 : 35  Denver
Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal 1:42 into the second overtime Saturday to lift the Baltimore Ravens to a 38-35 victory over the Denver Broncos in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game.

San Francisco  45 : 31  Green Bay
Colin Kaepernick ran for a quarterback playoff-record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to wide receiver Michael Crabtree in leading the San Francisco 49ers back to the NFC Championship Game with a 45-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night.

Atlanta  30 : 28  Seattle
Matt Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left and the Atlanta Falcons bounced back after blowing a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, defeating Russell Wilson and the gutty Seattle Seahawks 30-28 in an NFC divisional playoff game Sunday.

New England  41 : 28  Houston
Tom Brady became the winningest quarterback in postseason play, throwing for three touchdowns Sunday to beat the Houston Texans 41-28 and lift the New England Patriots into the AFC Championship Game.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bama's Third National Title In Four Years Comes Easy

"The AP poll and the coaches' poll that began in 1950 provide the yardstick by which to measure a dynasty: three national championships in a several-year span, with superb records in the interim. Notre Dame (1946-1949) and Nebraska (1994-1997) won their three in a four-year span, as Alabama has done. Others, such as USC (1967-1974), won three across several seasons."
Quieting the Irish by the first play of the second quarter, Eddie Lacy, AJ McCarron and the No. 2 Crimson Tide rolled top-ranked Notre Dame 42-14 for the BCS championship Monday night, locking up a second straight national title and third in four years with another laugher of a title game.

Before a record Sun Life Stadium crowd of 80,120 that definitely included more green than crimson, Lacy ran right through the Irish and their Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o on a 20-yard touchdown run before the game was 3 minutes old, capping an 82-yard drive that was longest of the season given up by the Fighting Irish.

It would only get worse. Notre Dame's hopes of winning its first national championship since 1988 were all done. But Alabama just poured it on.

The only BCS title game that was more of a blowout was USC's 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl, a title that was later vacated because of NCAA violations.

Lacy, the game's offensive MVP, ran for one touchdown and caught a pass for another in the final minute of the opening half, spinning away from the vaunted Notre Dame defense not once, but twice, to cap a 28-0 blitz before the bands even got on the field.

Lacy finished with 140 yards on 20 carries, coming up with two of his best performances in the two biggest games of the year. He rushed for a career-high 181 yards in a thrilling victory over Georgia in the SEC title game, and was nearly as dominant against the Irish. McCarron wasn't too shabby, either, completing 20 of 28 passes for four touchdowns and 264 yards, adding another dazzling effort on top of his MVP in last year's title game.

Notre Dame made tremendous strides under third-year coach Brian Kelly, going from unranked in the preseason to the top spot in the rankings by the end of the regular season. But that long-awaited championship will have to wait at least one more year. Everett Golson completed his first season as the starter by going 21 of 36 for 270 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. But he got no help from the running game, which was held to 32 yards -- 170 below their season average.

Alabama (13-1) scored 69 straight points against its title game opponents, going back to getting the final 13 against Texas in 2010, followed by a stifling 21-0 victory over LSU for last year's crown, then scoring the first 35 points on Notre Dame. Nick Saban's team made the Irish (12-1) look like a squad that would be hard-pressed to finish in the middle of the pack in the mighty Southeastern Conference, which has now won seven straight national championships.

The Crimson Tide wrapped up its ninth Associated Press national title on Tuesday, breaking a tie with Notre Dame for the most by any school and gaining a measure of redemption for a bitter loss to the Irish almost four decades ago: the epic Sugar Bowl in which Ara Parseghian's team edged Bear Bryant's powerhouse 24-23. Notre Dame dropped to No. 4 in the last poll.

Bryant won five AP titles during his brilliant career. The way things are going, Saban might just chase him down.

The diminutive man with the perpetual scowl has guided Alabama to the top spot in the rankings three times since arriving in Tuscaloosa in 2007, and if he's serious about finishing his career with the job he has, there seems no reason he can't win a few more before he's done with "The Process."

"I think this may be the best offensive line, and I don't like to make comparisons, that we've ever had or been associated with," Saban said.

"This group has a lot of experience, and they play with a lot of consistency. And the power, the toughness, how physical they are, I think is probably a pretty unique quality."

Already, Saban is the first coach in the BCS era to win national titles at different schools, capturing his first at LSU during the 2003 season.

Now, he's the first coach with back-to-back BCS titles, and given the youthfulness of his team, Alabama figures to go into next season as a heavy favorite.

Good thing a four-team playoff is coming with the 2014 season.

More information:
» Nick Saban Joins Bear Bryant with Three Championships
» Sports Illustrated: BCS National Championship Photos

A.J. McCarron set the Alabama career passing TD record with 49 pass TD. Previous record was set by John Parker Wilson (47). Amari Cooper set the Alabama school record for touchdown catches in a single season. His 11 break the mark of 10, set by Al Lary, 1950.

"Here is what we know about Manti Te'o: He is an exceptional football player. He's a projected first-round NFL pick. He finished second in the Heisman voting, and he won a haul of other trophies: the Walter Camp, the Chuck Bednarik, the Butkus, the Bronko Nagurski. In each of his three seasons as a full-time starter, he racked up at least 100 tackles."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Houston  19 : 13  Cincinnati
Arian Foster ran for 140 yards and one touchdown, and the Houston Texans used a stifling defensive effort for a 19-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday in an AFC wild-card playoff game.

Green Bay  24 : 10  Minnesota
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers showed how dangerous they can be when they're at full strength Saturday night, overwhelming the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 in an NFC wild-card game that never was really close.

Baltimore 24 : 9 Indianapolis
Anquan Boldin set a franchise record with 145 yards on five receptions, including the clinching touchdown, as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9 in Sunday's AFC Wild Card Game.

Seattle 24 : 14 Washington
The Seattle Seahawks finally won a road playoff game Sunday, taking a 24-14 NFC wild-card victory over the Washington Redskins, who lost rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III to another knee injury in the fourth quarter.

More information:
» London Fletcher: NFL Elder Statesman
» Russell Wilson: Richmond Native, Destined to Succeed

Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning’s NFL record for touchdowns by a rookie (26) and finished the season with a passer rating of 100, fourth in the NFL.