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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Temper Temper: Sports Tantrums of Winter

There are five inches of snow on the ground here in Central Virginia, as I write this.  But, my calendar says that winter is over.  So, it's time to take a look back at the hottest tempers during the coldest months of 2014.

1. Not Very Ladylike.  We didn't have to wait long to get our first great spectacle of sports temper in 2014.  This clip comes from the Sugar Bowl on January 2 between Alabama and Oklahoma.  The star of this video is reportedly an Alabama fan who is the mother of three children ... three children who were with her at the game!  This video has all sorts of gems.  Pre-fight trash talk.  A stealthy escape from wiser friends.  A Superman dive.  And a barrage of wild kicks.  My only question is:  Just how many Bourbon Street hurricanes contributed to this craziness?

2. Midwestern Meltdown.  Average folks from the Midwest pride themselves on mild manners and stoic demeanors, but the Big Ten has a long and storied history of basketball coaches with hot tempers.  During a road game at Wisconsin on January 6, 2014, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery channeled his inner Bobby Knight and went berserk on the referees.  Not only did McCaffery's Hawkeyes go on to lose the game, but McCaffery earned himself an ejection and a one-game suspension for his antics.

3. Canadian Fight Night.  What you are about to see is a all-out five-on-five line brawl to start the January 18, 2014 game between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks.  If this fight looks like it was planned, that's because it was.  Bad blood between these Canadian rivals prompted both teams to start the game with their fourth lines on the ice.  The only reason to do that is to have a throw down without risking ejection of the star players.

4. Marcus Smart Pushes Fan.  Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart broke the modern trend and returned for a sophomore season in college rather than turn pro.  Theoretically, Smart would be able to market himself as the most mature player amongst the top picks in the 2014 NBA draft.  However, Smart's outburst on February 8, 2014 at Texas Tech certainly did not help his image.  Exactly what was said to Smart is up for debate.  No one disputes that middle-aged Tech fan did something that should be beneath a man of his years.  However, fighting the fans is simply not allowed.  The Big XII conference handed Smart a 3-game suspension for this shove.  Really, the best part of the video is when the commentator calls the fan "elderly."

5. March Madness.  "Mad" has two meanings: angry and crazy.  This video includes both uses of the word.  During the America East Conference basketball tournament championship game, the Albany Great Dane and the Stony Brook Seawolf get a little carried away.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mascot Madness 2014

Ever since Selection Sunday, the airwaves and the blogosphere have been filled with bracket predictions and game breakdowns. Well, I'll leave that serious stuff to others.  Banshee Sports is your leader for analyzing the mascots of March.  I know I'm a little late this year, but I present to you the complete breakdown of Mascot Madness 2014.

There were 68 total teams in the NCAA field.  This year, there were only 50 different mascots.  That is down from the 57 different mascots last year.  As usual, animal-themed mascots led the way with 29 different schools.  People-themed mascots were well-represented this year with 22 schools.  Natural disasters, supernatural forces and colors filled out the rest of the bracket.  Then there was the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Ohio State stands alone as the only mascot in the tournament that is simply a part of a plant.

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack
In terms of a single mascot, the wildcat led the way with five separate schools.  The wildcat has been the most popular mascot for several years, but five entries is more than usual.  However, the lack of variety this year does not mean there was a lack of creativity.

South Region:  For the second year in a row, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Syracuse Orange are in the same bracket in the tournament.  In a vacuum, those are unusual mascots, but those schools have been March Madness staples for too long to really draw my attention.  The Albany Great Danes and the Dayton Flyers deserve strong consideration, but the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks get the nod for best mascot in the east region.  Lumberjacks is not just an unusual nickname on the surface.  It is an especially unusual mascot for a team named after the father of Texas.  When you think of lumberjacks, most people think of the Great Lakes or the Pacific Northwest ... not Texas.  So, good for SFA getting creative on this one.

Providence Friar
(Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

East Region:  On the basketball court, a #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed, but in terms of mascots, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were one of the best teams in the region.  The problem for Coastal Carolina is that chanticleer is really just a fancier word for the gamecock, the mascot of their in-state rivals at the University of South Carolina.  The Delaware Blue Hens were in contention, but just adding a random color to your animal does not score you any points.  And, the more I thought about it, hens really are not very tough or very appealing.  That makes the Providence Friars the best mascot in the south region.  I like it that a Catholic school founded by the Dominican order embraced its history, and I really like that Providence dresses up an oversized monk to roam the sidelines at games.

SDSU Aztec

West Region:  At first blush, the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns seemed to be the clear favorite for best mascot in almost any region.  This would certainly be true if the mascot UL Lafayette mascot was an irate redneck with a French sounding name.  Unfortunately, UL Lafayette dresses up some weird looking pepper headed thing instead.  The North Dakota State Bison have championship pedigree with their mascot Thundar, but take a look at that San Diego State Aztec!  Anybody can dress up some fat kid in a puffy suit with a giant head, but not everyone can don traditional Aztec garb and look good doing it.  Plus, I think this guy adds an intimidation factor.  If this is what the non-athletes at SDSU look like, the guys on the team must really be tough.

Midwest Region:  On Selection Sunday, CBS deemed this region the "Glamour Region."  I don't think the commentators were talking about mascots, but the midwest region was loaded with mascot talent.  Two regional champions from last year are in this bracket in the form of the Wichita State Shockers and the St. Louis Billikens.  The Wofford Terriers were in good position to win this region, but they don't bring the real live Boston terrier to basketball games.  That left the door open for the Manhattan Jaspers to be the best mascot in the midwest region.  Manhattan College is creative in all areas of their name.  For starters, Manhattan College is actually located in the Bronx.  Instead of going the generic route for a mascot, Manhattan went with a specific man.  Manhattan is named after Brother Jasper, the man who brought baseball to the school in the 1800's.  According to legend, Brother Jasper invented the 7th inning stretch.  As a lover of ballpark hotdogs and beer, that's good enough for me.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Where's the Banshee?

It's March.  One of the best months of the sports year.  And yet, it's been pretty quiet here at Banshee Sports.  I do not typically get very personal in these posts, but I figured I owed y'all a little explanation.

Like most people who type out words and publish them for the public to read, the secret hope is to to be discovered and get a chance to write for a bigger audience.  This winter, I got that chance.  One of my very first friends in the Twitterverse invited me to join him at an up-and-coming college basketball website.

I do not want to get into the specifics because I do not want anyone to misinterpret anything I'm saying as being negative about that site.  Suffice it to say that most of the writing I've done in the past month has been on that site instead of here at Banshee Sports.  My time away was both fun and educational.  I learned a lot about the writing process and SEO and meta descriptions.  I learned how hard it really is to put out timely content on a daily basis.  My respect for the people running that site and similar sites has grown tremendously.

(Terry Renna/AP Photo)
Most of all, I learned that I'm not really ready to leave my little world here at Banshee Sports.  As I said in my very first post here at Banshee Sports, I started this blog because I love sports with my heart and soul, and I want to share that joy with others.  It turns out that when there are actual expectations on my writing, the writing becomes less joyous and so do the sports.

At this point in my life, I have decided to be joyful in this little pond rather than grinding it out in the mainstream ocean.  Would I like the audience to grow at Banshee Sports?  Of course.  Will I consider other opportunities in the future?  Most likely.  But for now, Banshee is back.  So, if you'll excuse me, I have to go write some important columns about mascots, temper tantrums and food.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tournament Pick 'Em

The NCAA tournament field won't be set for another week, but it's not too early to get your spot reserved in the Banshee Sports Tournament Pick 'Em competition.  This year's Final Four destination is Texas.  So, Banshee Sports got in a lone star state of mind when picking this year's prize.

The winner of this year's competition will receive a 6-month subscription to the Salsa of the Month Club.  The second place finisher will win a one-time delivery of chocolate covered bacon.  I realize that not everyone loves college basketball, but who doesn't love salsa and bacon?

Click here to join: Banshee Sports Tournament Pick 'Em.

Share the word with your friends.  Deadline for entry is 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, 2014.

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