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.

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 Chiefs-Titans 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 LSU-Alabama 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 Yankees-Astros 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

 

 

Oh, That Schedule

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.

It happens around this time every year. We start to get complaints that a viewer’s team has not been shown. The questions are often the same: Why aren’t you doing this team? Why is this team on so often? Why are you predominantly focusing on one league? etc.

I suppose we could take this as a compliment that viewers want to see us cover their team. I’d like to think the RCN gang does a great job and, therefore, you want our production at your game. I am also not naïve and realize you may just want to see your son or daughter on TV. I get it.

So, allow me a chance to explain the process. A schedule is sought weeks before the actual start of the season. In other words, before any games are even played, a preliminary schedule for the football season is published. Obviously, this involves some picking of games based on the teams considered to be the best and finding the best match-ups for any given week.

And, so far, I would like to think we have done a pretty good job:

Notre Dame 42 – Northwestern 35
Freedom 24 – Bethlehem Catholic 21
Freedom 21 – Parkland 18
Nazareth 35 – Freedom 33
Nazareth 27 – Bethlehem Catholic – 13

There is no question these were the best games of the night. Except, perhaps, this past week when Easton beat Emmaus by one in the waning seconds. We missed that one. However, we will see Easton quite a bit the rest of the season.

There are also other factors. On some weekends, our production crew has other responsibilities such as the Allentown Fair, the Celtic Classic, and charity polo. Those events tie up one of our two production trucks. We cannot be everywhere and our football schedule reflects that.

We also contractually support the Lafayette football program, so their Saturday game may negate our ability to do a high school game that day. And please understand that our schedule is a transformational one. We may very well have picked a game in late July and a better match-up that we did not anticipate pops up. We will change. For instance, right now the Nazareth-Easton game (both teams are currently undefeated) is not on our schedule. I certainly expect that will change.

We thank all of you for your passion for our local coverage on all fronts. Believe me, our goal is not to slight anyone or any program. As far as football is concerned we try to bring the best games we can that will attract the greatest viewer interest. And then, we hope we are right!


ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

1. If the Eagles don’t get healthy quickly, they will not make the playoffs. Sunday showed that without DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, they have very few weapons at Carson Wentz’s disposal. It looks like 1-3 after Thursday’s matchup with the Packers. The Cowboys are already 3-0.

2. The headline read, “Antonio Brown will never play in the NFL again”. I hope that is true!

3. It appears Saquon Barkley has a high ankle sprain. He’s not out for the season, but this injury has a history of taking weeks to heal. Even with Barkley out, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones led the Giants to a comeback win over Tampa Bay.

4. It’s the final week of MLB and the Phillies are done. It looks like the Mets and the Cubs will not make it either. The Brewers and the Nationals appear to be the wild card teams, but the Brewers can still pass the Cardinals for the Division title. The Athletics appear to be a wild card lock with the Rays and the Indians battling for the other spot. Wild card scenarios make the end of the season interesting, for sure.

5. There is no doubt that the Nazareth Blue Eagles are the surprise of the football season thus far. With back-to-back wins over Freedom and Bethlehem Catholic, can they avoid a letdown this Friday at Parkland? Tune in to RCN-TV for the LIVE telecast at 7:00pm on Friday night. Lafayette takes on Penn on Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm, also on RCN-TV.

GARY’S GUESSES (LAST WEEK –12-4) (YEAR-TO-DATE – 34-13-1 72%)

GREEN BAY
GIANTS
HOUSTON
BALTIMORE
CHARGERS
INDIANAPOLIS
KANSAS CITY
NEW ENGLAND
ATLANTA
RAMS
SEATTLE
MINNESOTA
JACKSONVILLE
NEW ORLEANS
PITTSBURGH

 

 

 

Friday the 13th

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 am not a superstitious guy.  I have opened an umbrella in my office.  I’m sure I have walked under a ladder (although I was probably NOT using it).  I have certainly stepped on a crack and, as far as I knew, my mother never suffered any undue back distress.  I cannot remember the last time I spilled salt, but if I did I would just clean it up, not make a bigger mess by throwing it over my shoulder.

So, once again, I am not a suspicious guy.  However…

This past Friday was the 13th.  Yes, Friday the 13th.  I know the date has some history to it.  The number itself is supposed to be unlucky.  Many hotels avoid having a 13th floor.  Thirteen disciples came to the Last Supper and that did not turn out well at all.  Even Hammurabi (you remember him?) left the number 13 out of his famous code.

I bring this up because this past Friday was the 13th and I had a football game to do – undefeated Nazareth at undefeated Freedom.  I always plan to arrive at the venue by 5:00pm for a 7:00pm game.  When I get to Bethlehem School District Stadium I ALWAYS park in the same place – just across the street from the stadium.  It allows easy entrance and, more importantly, easy exit.  But, my space was taken!  That never happens.

I was forced to find another.  Okay, no big deal.

About 20 minutes before the start of the game, I was informed that the officials I was given during the week were all changed.  This meant that our graphic was completely wrong.  Luckily, we managed to make the change before game time, but I was left wondering why the change.

The game began and, as is the norm, I wanted to get a report from Tony Cocca, our sideline reporter, before the opening kickoff.  His microphone would not work and never worked for the rest of the night.  He could hear us.  We could not hear him.

When a touchdown is scored, I quickly have to recap the drive and make some notes so I can recap when necessary.  Freedom scored in the second period to make it 14-13.  I started writing – time of score, who scored, how many TDs the player has scored this season, etc.  After all, the extra point was a given.  The Freedom kicker, up to that point, was a perfect 14 for 14.  He missed, but I missed the miss!

For the next ten minutes or so, I kept giving the score as being tied – 14-14.  I asked my color analyst why he didn’t point out my mistake.  He told me he missed the miss, also.

Later in the game, I “promo-ed” a game we had dropped from the schedule.  That’s right, I was building up the viewers’ expectations for another game to follow, but I was wrong.  The game was originally scheduled but then dropped from the schedule.

The culmination of the night was the outcome.  Every sportswriter (10 of them) picked Freedom to win the game.  Nazareth won 35-33.  Freedom was forced to go for a two-point conversion (because of the missed extra point that I originally missed, too).  They failed.

As I walked back to my car wondering where I had to park it, I began to think that maybe this Friday the 13th stuff has some merit to it.

Thank goodness, it only comes rarely!  KNOCK ON WOOD!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Two of the superstars in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Drew Brees of the Saints, may both be facing surgery after this past Sunday’s games. Roethlisberger grabbed his throwing elbow after throwing a pass and Brees injured his wrist and thumb after hitting the hand of a defensive tackle. 
  1. Time for my Saquon Barkley mention (seems to come up every week). His presence has me now watching the Giants, too.  He is great; his team is awful.  And Eli Manning (I know his offensive line is awful) looks lost out there.  He has no one to throw to and he seems to panic at times.  It is time to see what his backup Daniel Jones can do.  I mean, come on.  I want to enjoy the Barkley games. 
  1. Who will beat the Patriots? No one until maybe November.  That’s when they have Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Dallas.  If they win those and Tom Brady stays healthy, it could be 16-0. 
  1. Remember Keith Jackson, Don Meredith, and Howard Cosell behind the microphones for Monday Night Football? That was (are you kidding me?) 50 years ago.  September 21, 1970 was the first broadcast of Monday Night Football.  The Browns played the Jets that night.  They played each other this week on (you guessed it) Monday Night Football.  The Browns won. 
  1. The high school football just gets better and better each week. RCN-TV has a terrific football lineup this weekend.  On Friday night at 9:30pm, the undefeated Nazareth Blue Eagles take on the once-defeated Golden Hawks of Bethlehem Catholic, who “mercy-ruled” Parkland this past Saturday.  Our LIVE game at 7:00pm features Parkland at Liberty.  Both teams already have two losses and cannot afford another.  Join us.

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK –11-5)  (YEAR-TO-DATE – 22-9-1  71%) 

JACKSONVILLE

GREEN BAY

PHILADELPHIA

KANSAS CITY

BUFFALO

INDIANAPOLIS

MINNESOTA

NEW ENGLAND

DALLAS

TAMPA BAY

CAROLINA

SEATTLE

CHARGERS

SAN FRANCISCO

RAMS

CHICAGO

 

What’s the Message?

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 are a sports fan (and you know I am), this should be the absolute best time of the year.

Major League baseball is winding down with the battles for berths in the playoffs at stake.  Each baseball game, if your team is still alive, takes on added importance.  Who isn’t watching the standings every day?

Add to that the start of the high school football season.  We are only three weeks in and already there have been some great match-ups.  It looks like the regular season is only going to portend what should be some great playoff games for the District titles.  And then it is on to the state playoffs.

Let’s not forget the start of the college football season.  Of course, the really good teams schedule some “patsies” at the beginning, but there are always some interesting results, none better than this past weekend when Army-Michigan went to double overtime before Michigan eked out a 24-21 win.  Army was in position to win the game in regulation.  There will be plenty of great games the rest of this season.

And then, there’s the NFL.  It started Thursday night with the upset win by the Packers over the Vikings and continued when the Eagles came back from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Redskins.  The march to the Super Bowl has begun.

So, can it get any better than this time of the year?  Only if something spoils it.  And that happened for me and, I’m sure, plenty of other fans.  You see, I hate to see bad behavior rewarded.  It seems to rear its ugly head all the time anymore in the sports world.  And that happened again when the New England Patriots signed Antonio Brown to a $15 million contract ($9 million guaranteed) after he was released from the Oakland Raiders.  It is also reported Brown could get another $20 million if he signs for next season.

He was a horrible teammate at Pittsburgh and an even worse one at Oakland with excuse after excuse not to practice in the preseason.  He couldn’t play for the Steelers.  He couldn’t wear the helmet prescribed by the NFL to promote player safety.  Without his preferred helmet, he just could not practice.  He couldn’t keep his mouth shut around the Raider GM.  He, literally, would not “play ball.”  The Raiders finally let him go for violating his contract.  And who did not want to applaud the Raiders for standing up to Antonio Brown?

And then he gets rewarded by the New England Patriots, a team that is easy to dislike anyway.  There are some who feel the Patriots talked to Brown while he was under contract to the Raiders.  That would be a violation of the rules, but haven’t they done that before?  Owner Bob Kraft even offered to let Brown live at his house if he desired.  If you already hated the Patriots, add this to your list of reasons.

Remember how we always talk about football being a team sports.  It is a “me” sport for Antonio Brown and wouldn’t you like to see just one time that arrogance and selfishness would be punished?  And it never seems to happen anymore.  Instead, it gets rewarded.

The best time of the year for a sports’ fan became tarnished this weekend.  I can only hope that the Patriots find a way to lose this season and I really hope Antonio Brown is the reason!  That could be the right message after the Patriots, once again, sent the wrong one.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. Even though the Giants looked awful against the Cowboys on Sunday, Saquon Barkley rushed for 120 yards and caught four passes for 19 yards. He sprinted for 59 yards on the second play of the game.  And he was not used all that much – only 15 touches. 
  1. Nazareth’s Jahan Dotson had a two touchdowns, 109 yard receiving game for Penn State this past weekend. It is really fun to watch our local high school players excel at the highest levels. 
  1. Maybe the Cleveland Browns just have to get out of Cleveland so they can change their name. This was supposed to be their year with Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham, Jr. starring for their offense.  Well, on Sunday the Tennessee Titans beat them 43-13.  They looked like… well, the Browns. 
  1. The Phillies just won’t let us quit on them. They are only two games behind the Cubs in the wild-card chase.  They are tied with the Brewers and only the Diamondbacks are a bit closer to the Cubs.  The wild-card chase certainly keeps up the interest. 
  1. RCN-TV has a terrific football lineup this weekend. On Friday night, the undefeated Nazareth Blue Eagles take on the undefeated Freedom Patriots.  Saturday night, watch Parkland visit Bethlehem Catholic.  We kick off our Lafayette College schedule Saturday afternoon at 12:30pm when Sacred Heart comes to town.  All the games are LIVE.

GARY’GUESSES (LAST WEEK –11-4-1)  (YEAR-TO-DATE – 73%) 

CAROLINA

PHILADELPHIA

BUFFALO

TENNESSEE

DETROIT

BALTIMORE

NEW ENGLAND

DALLAS

HOUSTON

PITTSBURGH

SAN FRANCISCO

MINNESOTA

KANSAS CITY

RAMS

CHICAGO

CLEVELAND