Frankie O's Blog: Tears

Frankie O's Blog: Tears

Friday, March 11, 2011
9:00 a.m.

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Of course Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstras comments caught the attention of everyone at the bar this week and added greatly to the derisive nature of ALL Heat conversations that I listen to at work. As far as villains go, this Heat team has got to be an all-timer. People HATE them. So while, in-over-his-head Spoelstra tried to convey how much his team cares by sharing the fact that his team was in the locker room CRYING after their heart-breaking loss to the Bulls on Sunday, his words had no such affect. In fact it was the total opposite, much like his comments the next day when he tried to spinlie his way out of it by saying he was misunderstood. No. We understand. You were making stuff up, and when you went back in the locker room and were confronted by Two and a Half Men, you understood that what you had done was very wrong. Well, for your players any way. Where I make my living, it was a great reason for additional Heat-bashing, which is just good, clean fun! Can you imagine what Kevin Garnett is going to have to say about this the next time he faces them?

Lost in all that foolishness nationally, was another stellar effort by Derrick Rose, willing his team to victory once again. After what happened in Atlanta last week, there was a lot of consternation over the fact that the Bulls were just one game over .500 on the road. As he has done after bad efforts time and again this season, he came back possessed and led the Bulls to the impressive road-double of beating both Florida teams in consecutive games on the road and giving the Bulls a 4-1 road-trip. The mind boggles in thinking how good this kid is now and where he is headed. While Ive been trying to temper my expectations on how far they can go this year, with D-Rose leading the way, who knows? Were all learning not to bet against him.

My favorite story of the week has to do with the mess at Ohio State. (The? Seems to me youre not better than anyone else!) To say that there is an air of condescension from the university or its fans is as big an under-statement that I can make. I could go on and on (I heard that!) but Ill stay for the most part in the present. First there was the Little sisters of the poor comments from university president E. Gordon Gee, when discussing the merits of non-B.C.S. schools in B.C.S. bowls. Whatever! Im sure hes a real hoot at his endowment fundraisers, but he seems a little out of touch. Or is he? He seems to realize the win-at-all-cost method of building a big-time football program that produces big-time money and helps him greatly in those endowment cocktail parties. His choice of a football coach, Jim Tressel, was a proven winner at the 1-A level, even if there were a lot of concerns over certain boosters that were on HIS sidelines. One booster was later convicted for his financial relationship with one of Tressels best players. Tressel denied any complicity and who wouldnt believe him? (LMAO!) Upon coaching at The University he won a national title in his second season. If my math is correct that would mean that he won with a lot of John Coopers players. Since then, hes been blown-out in two national title games, won 6 Big Ten Titles and compiled an 85-17 record in the last 8 seasons. Ill admit that I dont know a lot, but I would think, at that school, with that kind of record, there must be a lot of pressure to win another title and validate that the first one wasnt a fluke due to a late interference flag in over-time. As you know here, I was shocked at the audacity of the school to let 5 players who were found to be guilty of violating NCAA rules, to play in last years Rose Bowl.

Then again, it seemed to be par for the course for CheatyPants McSweaterVest. He promised that the players would pay for their mistakes buy agreeing to return to The University for next season and sitting out the first five games, when they traditionally play Mr. Gees favorite teams. He was aghast at what they had done, since he had just learned of it. Turns out that was a con-job since e-mails have been found that proved that he knew about this last April. Of course he is going to make amends by sitting out the firsttwo games of next season. This penalty is university imposed and its possible that the NCAA could impose a tougher sanction, but I wont hold my breath, Jim Calhoun and Bruce Pearl have taught us, that mis-remembering what they or their players have done, is no big deal. Say what you want, but it turns out that the coach who enjoys going by the nick-name The Senator must now realize we can use that name in its not so flattering connotation. Just one question: Dont you think that the man in charge of young men, for leading them, should face more punishment for covering-up their infractions when he knew better? Why does he only get two games? Nice message. I guess The Ohio State University really is an institution of higher learning, meaning that the higher you are, the less of what you learn, you have to share, or pay the price for.

Something Ive been asked a lot this week is my opinion on the dismissal of B.Y.U. forward Brandon Davies from the basketball team for violating their honor-code. Much to their surprise, I dont have one problem with it. Davies is a Mormon. He knew what was expected of him when he signed to play at the school. I think this is the point. Too often, see above, players and coaches are allowed to do whatever they want in the name of winning. I think its refreshing that in this, probably, its best season in basketball, EVER, that the university would stand by its ideals, even if it could cost them the opportunity to play for a national title. I guess they can take the The in front of Ohio State and put it in front of their name, Ohio State wont be needing it for a while. And let me make this clear: I could have never gone to school there! Did you see that honor code? But it is what it is, dont go if you cant abide. Makes you wonder though: How in the name of Mitt Romney, did Jim McMahon actually go to school there for four years?!!

Have you seen the video of Tom Brady dancing in Brazil? I dont know where to start. I found myself laughing and feeling very uncomfortable at the same time. I guess when Charlie Sheens out there, you can do anything you want, if you have the cash.

Finally, theres one story from this past week that I cant get out of my head, the story of Wes Leonard and Fennville (Mi) High. By now, most of you have heard the story: Wes hits game-winning shot, in over-time, to win the game and cap a perfect regular season, 20-0. Then tragedy struck. In the post-game euphoria, as the players were being gathered for a team photo, Wes was felled by an enlarged heart and is with us no more. As a parent, I cannot explain my heartache. I cry every time I read a story about it. But, were way past whats fair in this life. My only hope is that his family and friends can find a way to move on, while always remembering the gift that they were given in Wes. Needless to say, Ive been following the team as they progress through the Michigan high school state playoffs and in the wake of Wess death they have won two games and play in the District Championship game tonight. So tonight, instead of following up on the rantings of Americas Madman Charlie Sheen, maybe type in Wes Leonard into your Google search bar instead, and start to read. I think his story, and everyones around him, while tragic, are what winning is all about.

Bears mix of QB Jay Cutler with OC Dowell Loggains still a critical work in progress

Bears mix of QB Jay Cutler with OC Dowell Loggains still a critical work in progress

Back in January, before the Bears promoted Dowell Loggains from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, CSNChicago.com took an advance look at Loggains and how he might fit with Jay Cutler were the Bears to make Loggains yet another in the long list of coordinators for Cutler. With the start of training camp at hand, a longer look at this pivotal coach-player situation comes into focus.

No change made by the Bears this offseason carries the weight of the one moving Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator to replaced departed Adam Gase. Quarterback Jay Cutler is coming off the best statistical season of his career, founded on the ball-security foundation instilled by Gase and Loggains. The Gase-to-Loggains succession plan projects to catapult Cutler, and with him the offense, to a next level.

Not necessarily.

For now, as they were when Mike Martz, Aaron Kromer and others took the Chicago O.C. job, all the right things are being said:

From Loggains on Cutler’s improvement under Gase and himself: “I don’t think Adam or I should take the credit,” Loggains said. “I think Jay made the choice to improve and work on the things that we asked him to work on. And I hope that process continues.”

From Cutler: “I’ve known Dowell like I’ve known Adam, for a long time… . The backbone of this offense is still the same. Even if Adam was here I think we still would have changed some stuff and got better in certain areas. So we’re just kind of continuing down that road.”

But Cutler having a positive relationship with an incoming coach means…nothing.

Indeed, his history is not encouraging, even with coaches he ostensibly thought highly of coming in, even ones already on staff or had worked with him previously.

Mike Tice was promoted from offensive line coach to coordinator when Mike Martz was fired after the 2011 season, Cutler’s previous best for avoiding interceptions. Tice had been instrumental in balancing the offense in 2010 when Martz’s schemes and protections were getting Cutler annihilated.

But by mid-2012, Cutler’s relationship and communications with Tice had deteriorated to the point of backup Josh McCown needing to serve as go-between.

Notably, the 2012 friction was developing even as the Bears were on their way to a 10-6 season, and with Jeremy Bates having been hired as quarterbacks coach. That was based in part on Bates’ relationships with Cutler from a 2006-08 overlapping stint with the Denver Broncos. Cutler’s relationship with Tice was toxic, and Bates went down along with Tice and the rest of Lovie Smith’s staff after that season.

The Bears have added Dave Ragone, a member of the Tennessee Titans staff with Loggains and having played two NFL games in 2003. But the Bears’ offense will turn on the Cutler-Loggains axis and it relationship elements, both football and inter-personal.

“There’s definitely some honesty there,” Cutler said, smiling. “He’s not afraid to tell me when I’m completely wrong and rightfully so. I like to tell him whenever I think we’re not doing things right or we need to change things.

“I think at the core of that we kind of cut through some stuff and we get things done a little bit quicker… .No one’s really sensitive. We just try to get it done.”

When Gase talked, Cutler listened. Will Cutler’s receptors stay open when something goes wrong, as something invariably will sometime in an NFL season? That is on Cutler, and his openness to yet another coordinator was at the root of his improvement to a career-best passer rating of 92.3.

[SHOP: Buy a Jay Cutler jersey here]

Loggains has been notably vocal during open practices, with more than Cutler alone. That is a departure from Gase’s demeanor, although Gase was more than capable of tough love when anyone on his side of the football needed it.

“I think it’s a mutual respect,” Loggains said of his Cutler relationship. “I think I respect him and he respects me. I think that when you have that mutual respect then all dialogue is legal. So whatever I say to him, he knows where it’s coming from and vice versa.”

Cred issues?

Some questions hanging over Loggains have less to do with Loggains himself, but rather his background.

Gase came to the Bears from two years as offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos under John Fox. Gase, quarterbacks coach for the preceding two seasons, moved into that job when Mike McCoy was hired to coach the San Diego Chargers.

The Denver gig included three seasons working with Peyton Manning. While Manning needed scant coaching at that point in his career, the point was less how much Gase coached Manning as much as what Gase brought with him from his time with Manning. Gase knew from up close what a Hall of Fame quarterback looked like.

Loggains’ NFL career stops have accorded him time with no one approaching Manning’s stature. Not surprisingly, in time with three different teams, Loggains has not been involved with an offense that ranked in the top half of the league:

Year Team Job Offense results
2015 Bears QB 21st ydg, 21st pass, 23rd pts.
2014 Browns QB 27th pass, 27th pts.
2013 Titans O.C. 21st ydg, 21st pass, 19th pts.
2012 Titans QB/O.C. 26th ydg, 22nd pass, 23rd pts.
2011 Titans QB 17th ydg, 15th pass, 21st pts.

The Tennessee Titans’ quarterbacks during Loggains’ years there were Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. The 2014 Browns put up the seventh-highest passing yardage in franchise history, with Brian Hoyer, Connor Shaw and Johnny Manziel as their quarterbacks.

No slight of any of the quarterbacks, but a point around Loggains might be not how little the offenses achieved in his time with them, but rather, how much.

“I think that I’ve had an opportunity working with Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland and Adam Gase this last year, obviously there’s stuff I’ve taken from both of them,” Loggains said. “Going back in the quarterback room, I think it was good for me. It was a good experience. Things you obviously change are, ‘hey, in Tennessee I like the way we did this and we’ll bring that here. In Cleveland, I like the way we did whatever.’. So it’s gaining knowledge from being around other people and being in different situations.”

Huskers, Spartans mourn the deaths of Sam Foltz, Mike Sadler

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Huskers, Spartans mourn the deaths of Sam Foltz, Mike Sadler

Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler were killed in a car accident Saturday night in Wisconsin.

Both players were working at a kicking camp near Waukesha, Wisc.

Foltz, 22, was the Big Ten Punter of the Year last season and earned All-Big Ten First Team honors.

Sadler, 24, was an All-Big Ten First Team selection in both 2012 and 2013. He was the first student-athlete at Michigan State to earn Academic All-America honors four times.

Both schools mourned the losses of their respective family members.

"Last night, we lost one of the best young men who I have ever had the honor to coach and who has ever worn the Nebraska uniform," Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said in a statement. "Sam was universally loved and respected by everyone he touched and on whom he had a positive influence each and every day. His tragic loss is immeasurable to his family, his friends, his classmates, his teammates and his coaches, and our thoughts and prayers are with all of them. The young men in our football program are hurting, but I know that their strength of character and resolve will bring us together and we will honor Sam every day moving forward."

"Our prayers of love and support go out to Sam’s family during this difficult time, and we will do all that we can to help comfort them in this time of sadness," Nebraska athletics director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement. "Sam was truly a tremendous young man who represented everything that a Nebraska student, athlete, teammate and friend should strive to be. While his loss is devastating, his impact will be felt forever. Along with coach Riley, our focus is on providing Sam’s family, teammates and friends with the critical support and love that they need at this time."

"We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear the extremely tragic news about Mike Sadler's death," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sadler family, his teammates, friends, coaches and Spartan Nation. We also express our deepest sympathies to the family of Sam Foltz and the Nebraska program for their loss. Mike impacted so many people not only as a football player but also from an academic standpoint and in the community, as well. The world has lost a rising star who dreamed big and was accomplishing those dreams, one after another. He was one of those people that brightened your day. I always say to try and be a light, and he truly was a light in this world. We will all miss him dearly. Once again, we find out that life is so fragile. The world will be a sadder and lonelier place without Mike Sadler in it. May he rest in peace."

"Today is a sad day for Michigan State, Nebraska and all of college football as we mourn the loss of two exceptional young men in Mike Sadler and Sam Foltz," Michigan State athletics director Mark Hollis said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends in this time of sorrow. Mike was the epitome of a student-athlete, excelling in the classroom and on the field, while his quick wit brought a smile to everyone's face. Most importantly, he represented Spartan Nation with great class, embracing his place as a role model for both kids and adults alike. On a personal note, he was more than just a student-athlete to me; he was a friend. His ability to make everyone feel special was but just one of his many special qualities. And that's the reason his impact will be felt by everyone who knew him for years to come. By all indications, Sam was the exact same role model for the Nebraska football family. While today is filled with sadness and reminders of the fragility of life, we can take solace in knowing that we are all better for having known Mike and Sam."

After Foltz's passing, Nebraska will not participate in Big Ten Media Days this week in Chicago.

Cubs closing in on Aroldis Chapman deal with Yankees

Cubs closing in on Aroldis Chapman deal with Yankees

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs are in the final stages of a blockbuster deal that could bring superstar closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago and would involve sending elite shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres to the New York Yankees, a source familiar with the situation said Sunday night.

The exact details aren’t clear, but the talks reached a point where the Cubs pulled Torres from the lineup at advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach, at least sensing the strong possibility of a trade that would add a 105-mph closer to a first-place team that entered the year as World Series favorites.

Chapman began this season serving a 30-game suspension covered by Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy after a dispute with his girlfriend in South Florida last fall. In absorbing a supremely talented player with real baggage, the Cubs would have to believe in manager Joe Maddon’s personality and a strong clubhouse culture, figuring it might only be a two-month-plus rental before Chapman cashes in as a free agent. 

That incident scared the Cubs away during the offseason, when a Chapman trade between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers collapsed at the winter meetings as those police reports surfaced. The Yankees waited for the price to drop and acquired the flame-throwing closer at a discount. Chapman didn’t mind the spotlight in New York, converting 20-of-21 save opportunities and striking out 44 batters in 31-plus innings.

Torres is only 19 years old and a consensus top prospect, showing up in the midseason rankings on ESPN (No. 26), Baseball America (No. 27) and Baseball Prospectus (No. 34). The Cubs had signed Torres out of Venezuela during the summer of 2013, giving him a $1.7 million bonus and trying to stockpile enough assets to build a perennial contender. It sounds like it’s almost time to cash in one of those huge trade chips.