The 113-day lockout was the third such labor stoppage under NHL Comissioner Gary Bettman. The previous labor agreement had expired on September 15th, 2012 and the lockout led to the cancellation of more than 480 games throughout the league. Some of the idle NHL players stayed in shape by playing in the American Hockey League [All AHL teams are affiliated with NHL parent clubs- NANESB!] as well as over in Europe.
This year's NHL All Star Game and the New Year's Day Winter Classis were cancelled as a result of the work stoppage. Although the complete schedule for the abbreviated season hasn't been released yet, the season begins on January 19th. Barring any changes on the NHL's part, the Bruins are slated to start the season at the TD Garden on the 19th against the New York Rangers. The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are scheduled to raise their champioship banner in the Staples Center the same day.
NCAA FOOTBALL- Man- do I have a shitload of games to catch up on. Is it just me, or aside from the Rose Bowl, did all the top tier BCS games turn out to be snooze-fests while the 'lesser' games turned out to be fairly close and much more interesting contests.
I've already posted the final scores for the New Mexico Bowl, the Idaho Potatoes Bowl and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl before going on my Christmastime hiatus. Here are the finals from the remaining bowl games.
Beef O'Brady Bowl
Ball State- 17
R+L Carriers Bowl
East Carolina- 34
Maaco Las Vegas Bowl
Boise State- 28
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Fresno State- 10
Southern Methodist- 43
Little Caesars Bowl
Western Kentucky- 21
Central Michigan- 24
San Jose State- 29
Bowling Green- 20
Bridgepoint Holiday Bowl
Russel Athletic Bowl
Virginia Tech- 13
Texas Tech- 34
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Air Force- 14
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
West Virginia- 14
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Arizona State- 62
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oregon State- 27
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Texas Christian- 16
Michigan State- 17
Music City Bowl
North Carolina State- 24
Georgia Tech- 21
Iowa State- 17
Mississippi State- 20
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Oklahoma State- 58
Capital One Bowl
South Carolina- 33
Northern Illinois- 10
Florida State- 31
Kansas State- 17
Texas A&M- 41
BBVA Compass Bowl
Ole Miss- 38
Kent State- 13
Arkansas State- 17
BCS Title Game
Notre Dame- 14
To hardly anybody's surprise, the title game ended up being a fairly lopsided affair, with Brent Musburger's on-air comments about Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron's girlfriend- Katherine Webb- generating more attention than Alabama's convincing victory over the Irish [For the record, the 73 year old Musburger basically pointed out how attractive Webb is and encouraged kids in Alabama to start throwing the pigskin around if they wanted to land a future Miss Alabama- NANESB!].
ELSEWHERE IN NCAA FOOTBALL- Boise State has announced the cancellation of their geographically improbable move to the Big East conference and will remain in the Mountain West conference. The university weighed the costs of playing in-conference games on the east coast and decided it would be more cost-effective to pay the Big East the one-time $10 million exit fee.
San Diego State, which was supposed to make the move to the Big East along with the Broncos, is now reconsidering their participation. With Boise State already gone from the Big East before even playing a game, the Aztecs can remain in the Mountain West without paying an exit fee due to a clause reportedly included in the agreement between the Big East and SDSU.
NCAA FCS FOOTBALL- For the second consecutive season, the North Dakota State Bisons are the FCS Champions, beating the Sam Houston State Bearkats by a final of 39-13 in a rematch of last year's FCS title game.
The UNH Wildcats did make the cut for the FCS bracket, but were eliminated in their first game after losing to Wofford by a 23-7 final on December 1st. This season, New Hampshire holds the distinction of being the only New England team- FBS or FCS- to qualify for a postseason game.
NFL- OK, so Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger walk into a bar.....to watch the playoffs on TV.
The NFL regular season wrapped up with the defending Super Bowl Champion NY Giants failing to make the playoffs along with New Orleans, Pittsburgh or Chicago.
New England finished the regular season with wins against Jacksonville and the Dolphins. Interestingly, the last place Jaguars gave the Patriots more of a challenge than Miami- Jacksonville's final drive started around midfield and got as far as the Patriots 12 yard line before QB Chad Henne was picked off in the end zone by safety Patrick Chung to hang on for the 23-16 win.
To wrap up the regular season, the Patriots shut out the Dolphins at Foxborough by a 28-0 final to finish the regular season with a 12-4 record- good enough for a 1st round bye, but not quite enough to clinch home field advantage. Instead, that honor goes to the 13-3 Denver Broncos who will host the Baltimore Ravens this weekend while New England hosts the Houston Texans for the second time in a month. Kickoff is set for 4:30 ET at Gilette Stadium and the game will be televised on CBS.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL- No less than 7 NFL head coaches were handed their walking papers on December 31st. This includes Norv Turner of the San Diego Chargers, Romeo Crennel of the Kansas City Chiefs, Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears, Pat Shurmur of the Cleveland Browns, Ken Wisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals and Chan Gailey of the Buffalo Bills.
After about a week, the Chiefs made the decision to hire Reid as the head coach while Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly interviewed with the Bills, Eagles and Browns. However, unnamed sources have indicated that Kelly is interested in staying on at Oregon.
|Jamie Rhodes- USA Today photo|
This was Oregon's first appearence in the NCAA Volleyball title game and Texas' second appearence in the championship game since 2009, when the Penn State Nittany Lions swept the Longhorns in the title match.
ELSEWHERE IN NCAA VOLLEYBALL- The university of Nebraska has announced that they will be adding women's sand volleyball as an intercollegiate sport beginning this year. This will be the 24th intercollegiate sport in the Cornhusker athletic program.
Sand/Beach volleyball was recognized as an 'emerging sport' by the NCAA in 2009 and in 2012, sixteen schools began fielding teams. However, most of these programs were for colleges located in California, Florida or Hawaii. The announcement by Nebraska signifies a significant move inland for the sport, which the NCAA decided to refer to as 'sand volleyball' to invite the participation of teams from colder and more landlocked venues.
It remains to be seen whether or not additional midwestern schools will follow the Cornhuskers lead into the burgeoning sport.
RED SOX- The Red Sox have signed former A's and Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew to a 1 year $9.5 million contract. Drew is the younger brother of former Red Sox outfielder JD Drew and has a .265 batting average with 77 HR and 349 RBIs over seven seasons. Although the youngest Drew brother got off to a lackluster start with Arizona in the 2012 season, he hit .250 with 5 HR and 16 RBI after being acquired by the Oakland A's on August 20. Drew also would reportedly recieve a $500,000 bonus if he had 500 plate appearences in a season.
OTHER RED SOX NEWS- In a 6-player trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Red Sox have acquired Joel Hanrahan along with infielder Brock Holt. Boston sends outfielders Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel as well as infielders Ivan DeJesus and Jerry Sands to the Steel City.
The Red Sox have been searching for a closer since the 2011 departure of Jonathan Papelbon who left as a free agent and signed with the Phillies.
Hanrahan had 36 saves in the 2012 seasons with a 2.72 ERA. Holt spent most of 2011 in AA Altoona before breaking through and getting called up by the Pirates late in 2012. In 24 games with the Pirates, Holt batted .292 with 3 RBI.