WrestleMania XXX: What Could've Been

Credit image to WWE.com

This year, the WWE has simply dropped the ball in building towards WrestleMania XXX.

In what was once supposed to be considered the greatest wrestling show of all time, sloppy booking and indecision has transformed professional wrestling's Super Bowl into a total clustered mess.

Fans would not accept as babyface Batista returning to claim the main event in New Orleans. Potential deals with Sting, Goldberg, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and CM Punk either fell through or just never materialized.

Austin vs. Punk, Rock vs. Brock, 'Taker vs. Sting, Goldberg vs. Ryback......none of it. We get none of those iconic dream matches (this year anyway).

So, what's the result? A staff of writers/executives who are totally noncommittal on storylines going into the event.

Is The Shield going to break up? What about the Real Americans? They're going to unify the United States and Intercontinental Championships! Sheamus vs. Christian! Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust! Ryback vs. Ultimate Warrior!

Plans seemed to change in panic each and every week, and now we're left with a card of 8 matches, that need to fill 4 hours worth of programming.

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement.

I ran the numbers, and found a disturbing trend. Most of the past decades WrestleManias have only featured just under 2 hours of actual in-ring action.

Do you remember the part about 4 hours worth of programming? Yikes.

I understand the need to push multiple main events for the biggest show of the year, but part of the charm of WrestleMania is the undercard, and finding gems of matches that steal the show.

Only 3 of those current 8 matches are classic one-on-one singles matches. This has all the makings of convoluted show.

Not to mention - we will likely have about 45 minutes to an hour of commercials, backstage promos, and live peformances.

So, you're boy here at the SoBros Network set out to put together the perfect WrestleMania XXX card given the resources WWE currently has.

And yes, it is WRESTLING intensive.

WrestleMania XXX
as done by the SoBros Network

OPENING CONTEST, winner added to WWE World Championship main event: Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan

This is one WWE definitely got right. HHH vs. Daniel Bryan has been building for months now. The only stage fitting for this feud to come to a head is WrestleMania.

Also, the added dimension of the stipulation presents a rare opportunity for WWE to open the show with their hottest star.

After all, he'll be working the main event as well, so you want to give him some rest in between.

Plus, if you want to get the crowd rocking, this is your best bet.

WINNER: Daniel Bryan

Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust

This could be pretty basic "sibling rivalry" buildup. No heels. No faces. Just two brothers eager to prove who the best is.

There's no doubt these two would put on the quintessential 'Mania undercard match.

We've seen both of them do so in the past. Cody at WrestleMania XVII against Rey Mysterio, and Goldust against HHH at WrestleMania XIII.

WINNER: It doesn't matter. The viewers win.

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal: Winner is named #1 contender for WWE World Championship

Battle royals are fun, and they serve a couple of big purposes: provide the winner with instant credibility, and showcase multiple talent in a small window of time.

For my battle royal, I'm knocking it down to 20 men, so that I'm not booked into a corner...not being able to utilize some of my best talent.

Sheamus, Big Show, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Wade Barrett, Alexander Rusev, Rey Mysterio, Christian, Brodus Clay, Damien Sandow, Darren Young, Titus O'Neill, Fandango, The Great Khali, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, R-Truth, Santino Marella, and Sin Cara make up the field.

Just as the Big Show knocks out Alexander Rusev and tosses him over the ropes, The Miz (who had been hiding under the ring) runs in and uses the Big Show's own momentum to throw him over the top rope.

Let's face it: the guy was huge in 2011, and needs a return to relevance desperately

WINNER: The Miz

No Holds Barred: Corporate Kane vs. Roman Reigns

Take this story from the moment Kane announced the 6-man tag for WrestleMania. Instead of aligning himself with the New Age Outlaws to take on the Shield, he would want to tackle the big man himself, with Rollins & Ambrose banned from ringside.

In Kane's mind, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. He'd want to emphatically beat some respect into Roman Reigns.

You want to showcase Reigns as a future main event talent? Here's your chance.

WINNER: Roman Reigns

Fatal 4 Way: Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. Curtis Axel & Ryback vs. The New Age Outlaws vs. Los Matadores

A near hit – the WWE has put together quite a nice, little tag team division since Triple H has started calling the shots.

The focus of this match is to showcase The Usos as the premiere tag team in all of wrestling....which is fine, but I have a feeling it will be harder for them to get over with the man named Cesaro in the ring with them.

Therefore, the Real Americans' spot goes to the New Age Outlaws, who have their delightful farewell tour capped off in a spot in the Tag Team Championship match.

As for Ryback & Axel, a duo of impressive heels present a credible opponent for Jimmy & Jey Uso. And Los Matadores? I'm actually okay with. They've been given a string of important wins, and both men are great workers.

This should be an exciting buffer after what was, no doubt, a slow-paced, brutal street fight.

WINNERS: The Usos

Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Coulter

Cesaro finally has enough of Swagger's blatant jealousy, and challenges him to settle their differences at 'Mania!

Instead of having a fair man-to-man contest, Swagger makes the contest personal, sending Cesaro into full-on face status.

Tell me this wouldn't be an awesome mid-card duel? Give Cesaro a chance to shine, but remind the WWE Universe that Jack Swagger is a well-decorated superstar. Prolong this feud into the future.

WINNER: Jack Swagger

Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

Given the resources WWE had at its disposal, this match makes sense, and I can't imagine a much better opponent for the dead man.

Just don't make the mistake of having Lesnar end the streak. Please – give us one more 'Mania and give that honor to Bray Wyatt. Am I right?

WINNER: Undertaker

Divas Invitational

Yep – expected and cliché. Just eye candy and an emotional buffer between two outstanding matches.

WINNER: AJ Lee

United States Championship Ladder Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

Man – I am basically salivating over the prospects of this match on the grandest stage of them all.

If Corporate Kane really wants to tear the Shield apart, why not try it from the inside? Play on the resentment of Ambrose's U.S. Championship reign. He's hardly defended it, right?

Give Seth Rollins an opportunity at the championship and make it so that he gets to act on some of that resentment, so he wants to beat Dean Ambrose.

Rollins gets a title shot. Kane gets to "implode" the Shield. And the WWE Universe gets an early Christmas present.

WINNER: Dean Ambrose – Give his title run a little more legitimacy.

Intercontinental Championship: Big E vs. Alberto Del Rio

You want to showcase new talent, right? How about your stud-in-the-making Intercontinental Champion, Big E?

Not only would this provide Big E a main event-level opponent, and an opportunity to really elevate his name, but Del Rio is an excellent worker. He would be both a credible threat to Big E's title, and make the champion look good in the process.

A nice, featured spot on the card – just where the Intercontinental Championship belongs.

WINNER: Big E

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

Outside of the main event, this is the most anticipated bout of the show. Kudos to WWE for actually giving us this match.

This is a match that should cement Bray Wyatt atop the heel castle in WWE, and ultimately groom him to be WWE Champion.

WINNER: Bray Wyatt

WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan

I like the idea of the triple threat. WWE was correct, and smart, to listen to the fanbase and hopefully the spectacular in New Orleans will end with thousands upon thousands of "YES!" chants and Daniel Bryan raising both belts in the air.

If not, there will be yet another letdown of epic proportions. Still, the WWE won't change until we stop watching. I'm not counting on Bryan winning solely for that reason....

Thankfully, this is the SoBros Network's WrestleMania XXX, and I SAY NEW ORLEANS GOES HOME HAPPY!

WINNER: Daniel Bryan

FULL CARD
WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
Winner added to main event: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
United States Championship Ladder Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
No Holds Barred: Kane vs. Roman Reigns
Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. New Age Outlaws vs. Axel/Ryback vs. Los Matadores
Intercontinental Championship: Big E vs. Alberto Del Rio
Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger
Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust
Divas Invitational

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Wisconsin Badgers Mascot Provides Excitement to NCAA Tournament

credit image to Wisc.edu

Sure, the NCAA Tournament is an exciting time of year. After all, they don't call it "March Madness" for nothing! 

Still, it's easy to get bogged down in all of the actual basketball that's going on. 

For Bucky Badger, University of Wisconsin mascot, that sort of debauchery simply would not happen. 

Yes, just when it appeared that the Oregon Ducks were going to steal an appearance in the Sweet 16 from Wisconsin, Bucky decided he was going to take a camera from a member of the production crew and film the audience. 

What. A. Badass. 

Easily the hippest moment of the tournament, fans witnessed an actual animal using modern technology in grandiose fashion. 

How do they run things at the University of Wisconsin? I mean, this has to be the pinnacle of higher learning....the Badgers have actually found a way to teach a real badger not only to dress itself in a tightly knit white and red, striped sweater (which we can only assume Bucky knitted on his own), but to show up at sporting events and cheer on his team. 

As if that's not enough, this badger can actually operate a top-of-the-line filming camera? Give me a break. 

My mind literally does not have the capacity to comprehend how mind-blowingly amazing this premise is. 

I haven't seen such an impressive feat from a live animal mascot since Jackson DeVille caught a touchdown pass from David Garrard back in.....you know....one of the 2 years David Garrard was actually good. 

Hell, that was one of the best catches the Jaguars had all season. But come on....any animal with two hands (or more) can catch a football. Especially jaguars, and double especially jaguars that happen to wear sunglasses (such as Jackson DeVille). 

Even here in Nashville, Titans mascot, T-Rac, strolls around in chariots and recliners....but that's just stuff he's dug out of dumpsters. I don't think the Titans staff even owns this animal....he's just a crazy raccoon that shows up to watch the cheerleaders, and on occasion he rides a motorized recliner that he found out back of the Lebanon Rent-A-Center. 

I'm straying from my point here...which is....

We know live animals at sporting events can do things. But, how many badgers do you know can pick up a camera and know what to do with it? 

I've seen a lot of things in my life....but never something like that. 

Our beloved announcers even commented on the scene, stating a fear of the day that animals would take over the Earth. 

By picking up that camera, Bucky was sending the message that that announcer was right. Badgers can operate cameras now, too. Watch out world. 

Next thing you know, animals are going to be doing our taxes and building edifices the likes of the Burj Khalifa, and you know who's going to lead this movement?

Bucky F'n Badger. 

You'd be a complete fool to think this is the first time Bucky ever impressed the entirety of society. Check out his side gig: 



The guy can not only work a camera, but he can work a computer, and writes literature. 

On top of everything else, he has the intestinal fortitude to look at dirty pictures on his work computer? 

AND HE CAN PLAY HOCKEY???

Kudos to you, University of Wisconsin...clearly the most advanced institution of higher learning in the entire world. Bucky Badger, FTW. 

Follow on Twitter: @SoBrosNetwork

The Most Southern Names In The NFL Draft

Credit Image to Nola.com

Let's get this out in the open right now: the NFL draft can be heavy.

Football sites are filled to the brim with content about current prospects, which team needs which position, trade possibilities, and stats galore.

It's enough to satiate even the most diehard football fans. I think we mostly get to a point where we throw our hands up and say "Enough already! Let's just get this over with!"

Well, in preparation for that moment, I've decided to have a little (harmless) fun with some of the prospects looking to cash in this May.

Thus, I present:

The 14 most Southern names in the prospective 2014 NFL draft class. You're welcome.

And for the record, this post has almost nothing to do with actual football. Just immature humor...anyway, here we go:

14. Willie Snead, WR Ball State

Willie Snead just sounds like the sturdy "Everyman" you think of when you think of hard work. But don't get it twisted, if he wasn't a darn hoot, he'd be "William" instead. There's a reason he goes by "Willie." There are Willie Sneads in every small town across the South. He's an honest man, who grew up in the area, and has no intentions of getting away. There's no place like home!

13. A.C. Leonard, TE Tennessee State

Mr. Leonard here sounds like the local plumber who shows up with a six-pack of Busch to tune up your Frigidaire. Initials are a huge indicator of redneckedness in the South. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Ol' A.C. here might be the life of the party!

12. Glasco Martin, RB Baylor

How cool of a name is Glasco, right? I mean this isn't just a Southern sounding name....this is a wild, wild west name. You know back then, Mr. Glasco would be opening up his general store for the public to come in and buy up the finest Sassafras this side of the Mississippi!

11. Odell Beckham, Jr., WR LSU

Juniors are another prominent naming mechanism in the South. What are the odds Odell here was referred to as "Junior" growing up? I'd say pretty good. The name just sounds smooth though....like country smooth. You'd likely think Odell is a pretty cool guy, but you'd know deep down....don't mess with the family.

10. Ed Stinson, DL Alabama

Doesn't this name just sound mean? "Mean" Ed Stinson is likely the hardass that turns heads every time he walks into an establishment. He is respected, but feared. You don't want to set him off, because that boy can throw down. No one is quite sure what Ed Stinson does for the local town, and they don't ask. They probably don't want to know....and that's assuming "Mean Ed" doesn't throw a fist down your throat just for asking.

9. Weston Richburg, C Colorado State

Ol' Mr. Richburg here probably stood among the Confederacy. With a name that rings out "Civil War era," I'd bet Weston was a fine man to have in the trenches. He's a strong man, stood firm, and walked tall...man's man through and through.

8. Walt Aikens, CB Liberty

Ah! Our first Southern country musician! This list had to have at least one, and the name "Walt Aikens" screams "Grand Ole Opry." Walt probably grew up in the hills of eastern Tennessee, dreaming of the day his banjo would carry him to stardom.

7. Carrington Byndom, CB Texas

Carrington seems like a wily ol' codger from his days as prospector. Deep down, the gold he's chasing is in his own heart. Next time he starts one of his crazy stories from the good ol' days, don't roll your eyes. Let him go....to him, that means the world.

6. Silas Redd, RB USC

Does the name Silas even exist outside of the South? I don't know....I can't find any documented cases...though the only place I looked was my own memory. Oh well...moving along.

5. Andrew Jackson, LB Western Kentucky

What an esteemed name! Did you know – the 7th President of the United States was named Andrew Jackson, and he called Tennessee home. In fact, I reside not 5 miles down the road from his old plantation home. What a strong Southern name!

4. Joe Don Duncan, TE Dixie State

This list is pretty stacked with tight ends...is there a correlation? Who knows...but Joe Don Duncan is easily one of the 4 most southern names in this prospective draft class. Joe Don is the high-school jock that could grow a full moustache at age 12. He sure could pitch a damn good pigskin, too. That's what landed him the starting gig, and the plethora of cheerleaders. Unfortunately for Joe Don, high school ended. But don't think that's stopped him from trying to relive the glory days for the past 30 years!

3. Mister Cobble, DT Kentucky

Be extra careful around old man Cobble. He's a frail, but feisty old codger. Living every day to raise hell, Mister is a vibrant personality with a total disregard for reality. He's the one telling you "when I was your age, all we had to play with was a handful of acorns and a dead squirrel." Don't be fooled by his slick talkin' skills. He's just like you behind his charade of invincibility.

2. Gator Hoskins, TE Marshall

Okay – so his name is technically Harold. Harold Hoskins is still a pretty Southern-sounding name....but he's billed as "Gator Hoskins." So we'll go with that. Gator Hoskins is the toughest sumbitch walking the Louisiana bayou. Don't test his patience, or he'll wrangle your ass into the tightest headlock you've ever been in. Still, he's just a fun-lovin' country boy who can be your best friend, but don't you dare get on his back side or you might be pulling a spear out of your rear.

1. Crockett Gilmore, TE Colorado State

Easily, the most Southern name I found when researching this list. It's a true salute to the South...both contemporary and vintage. It's pristine, really. Crockett Gilmore is honorable, honest, fierce, and passionate. The quintessential Southerner.

So, there's that. Thank you for keeping up with all of my slack-jawed hickspeak. 

This post comes from Stoney Keeley of The SoBros Network. You can follow the SoBros Network on twitter at @SoBrosNetwork, and read all of Stoney's work at The Southern Brothers Network

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The Absurdity of National Signing Day

Credit image to Sports Illustrated

I couldn't focus for a single second at work yesterday.

Twitter was constantly up, and I was being alerted for every 5-star recruit who pronounced his commitment. People even called out of work! How absurd is that? To skip a day from your job...your livelihood...so that you can watch 17 and 18 year old kids announce where they plan to attend college.

If you were to say that in any other context than football, it would be socially unacceptable. People would cringe and judge you to the fullest extent. The elderly would definitely call you a pervert. I've been called a pervert for much, much less.

And rightfully so, it's pretty ridiculous. No, I'm not up on my pedestal casting down my judgment upon you.

I was just as bad as you were about wanting to catch every commit! Then again, I reside in the South....the virtual Zion of college football.

Here, parading National Signing Day (my goodness...we even capitalize the damn name!) is just a routine activity. If you are not up-to-date on your team's recruiting class, you are not a loyal fan. In fact, you are worthy of public shaming. More so if you don't acknowledge National Signing Day in the same vein as Memorial Day.

There simply is no in-between. We're talking about the diehards of all diehards, the craziest of all crazies. A man's pride is at stake when talking about recruiting.

But, for what?

There's a strong correlation between elite recruiting classes and National Championships. We all know that good recruits, for the most part, make good players....some immediately...some later on.

Well, I have a confession to make....and this is where my own personal embarrassment comes into play.

I get so into National Signing Day that I research for weeks and weeks, months and months, and then once it's all over....said and done....I don't even pay attention to what the kid does!

It's almost as if I just assume the coaches will turn the guy into a great player, and just forget about him....literally, from the moment he commits.

Then, rest assured, during the kid's senior season, they'll show a clip of his "hat ceremony," and I'll say "Oh yeah...I think I remember that."

I know you aren't all like that. Some of you truly follow the recruiting process from the start throughout the kid's entire career, but I know people like me exist, and we are even more ridiculous.

Look at the Olympics. You want to root for your country, and you want to know who is representing your homeland.....but once the final ceremony is over, you forget the event even happened!

Who remembers how well the U.S. did in badminton in 2012? I could've told you in the summer of 2012....wait....is badminton even a real Olympic sport?

SEE!? I can't even recall what games were played!

I'm digging my credibility a grave as I type this.

My point is that we all want to be a part of something special, and these days, we have much more accessibility to events such as these.

Everyone follows recruiting now! So, for what is obviously the Super Bowl of college football recruiting, we want to be able to talk about it. We want to look knowledgeable about it. We want to "show support" for our team.

I get it. That's fine! Go for it! You don't have to know the ins and outs of each prospect's life, ya pervert!

Just enjoy the day, and the idea that your team is getting better because of great players! It's something that means a lot to the prospects and their families.

What's most ridiculous? The good ol' boys who degrade these kids for going to play for a school other than "their's."

Don't harass a kid because he didn't choose your school. That's just too far. I've seen middle-aged men verbally attacking players.

Really? Harvey Updyke would even disapprove.

That's a lie....Harvey Updyke would probably poison his own son if he elected to attend Auburn University. Nothing is off-limits with that wild man.

Anyway, try to remain civil. It's really a lot to ask around these parts, I know, but come on!

Don't call a kid a name, or worse, threaten them, because of something as frivolous as this. What if you took this approach to the entire university you support? What if you insulted every individual that chose a different school because he/she was a better fit elsewhere?

"YOU'RE A COMPLETE USELESS HACK! AIN'T NO WAY VANDERBILT'S LAW PROGRAM IS BETTER THAN OURS! HOPE YOU CHOKE! HAHA LOL!"

That would be exhausting! You would have to be filled with a lot of hate to accomplish that.

But, it's a good thing the people who think like that don't support universities....they support football teams.

And with that, I say I should get out before my credibility is completely shot down.

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Richard Sherman & How We View Athletes Today

credit image to CBS Sports.

Michael Crabtree attempted to start a fight with Richard Sherman in the offseason. From that point on, any time the two met on the field was destined to be a war.

Richard Sherman is an All-Pro cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. He may be an all-world trash talker. His confidence and feisty attitude is renowned in the NFL. Whether you like it or you don't, well, that's up to you.

To each his own.

Casual fans received a glaring look into the reality of the National Football League after last week's NFC Championship. There are a lot more Richard Shermans than you realize....you just aren't exposed to it very frequently because you simply aren't on the field.

Trash-talking has been a staple of American sport for decades. Deion Sanders, Kevin Garnett, Shannon Sharpe, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan....I could go on and on.

How about John McEnroe? This man once told a Czech opponent "you'll be sorry you hit me you [expletive]-ing communist [expletive]-hole" after being mistakenly hit with a tennis ball.

and Muhammad Ali? Oh boy.

But, how many of those names do you consider classless? I don't typically hear any of those men mentioned in this debate....yet, Michael Jordan was throwing punches at teammates in practice?? Classy.

Even Tom Brady has a reputation for talking a little more garbage than you think. TOM BRADY!

Why is that shocking? Again, all we see is what the cameras show us. We don't hear the talk that goes on in the heat of battle. We see Brady at the podium with Bill Belichick giving us monotone coachspeak week in and week out.

I'm sure you don't need to be reminded about Anquan Boldin's nature to talk trash. Just ask the Carolina Panthers about that. It goes on in every game, on every field, every Sunday that the NFL is in season.

It's normal.

And, besides, when did we become such paragons of class that we can assess one's character by a 16-second clip? A clip recorded mere moments after a man just made the biggest play of his career, in the biggest game of his career, to send his team to the Super Bowl nonetheless. Why are you surprised that he's overly emotional? How do you think he earned his spot as the best corner in the league (sorry Darrelle Revis & Joe Haden, but he is)?

Because Richard Sherman's work ethic produced his ability, and his ability is better than anyone else's in the league...anyone else's in the world. So, it's bad for him to say that? For crying out loud, Colin Kaepernick only threw towards Sherman TWICE in the entire game! TWICE! Sherman's biggest threat isn't a receiver, it's growing idle on the field because offensive coordinators aren't even trying to look his way.

I personally enjoy the man's playing style. He's fiery. He's confident. He's intelligent and calculated. He's entertaining. It's fun to watch him dissect a receiver and play chess with a quarterback.

That being said, I can certainly understand those that don't agree with his style of play. It's a turn-off if you don't see it as entertainment. Most fans hold athletes to a certain standard of conduct. That's fine. You have your opinion.

It just doesn't make sense to me that some people in our society can label a man as "classless" or a "thug" because of an incident as harmless (that's right) as this.

Sherman claims Crabtree was running his mouth the entire game, this after months of stewing over the offseason incident. So, put yourself in his shoes for a minute. You are the best in the world at what you do, and you have been disrespected by a guy who is the fifth best offensive weapon on his team (Behind Boldin, Davis, Gore, & Kaepernick). I feel like most of us would be a bit eager to shut him down and rub it in his face.

But, you put a camera in a man's face, in the heat of the moment, and act appalled at the result. You throw around insults as if the man committed a crime. *GASP* "He just said he's the greatest! He insulted Michael Crabtree! That's not what our athletes in America should be doing or saying! I'M OFFENDED!" For this exact frivolous reason, the NFL has a cool-down period after games. Players are encouraged to wait 15-20 minutes before getting in front of any audience.

Still, this is why I will always caution people to look to athletes as role models. Because, society is to blame for athletes being under the microscope the way they are. We are the ones who place these men and women on pedestals and expect a certain behavior. In so many cases, these athletes are NOT who we think they ought to be. They are concerned with winning and earning championships. Most of them didn't sign up to be role models....they had it thrust upon them. This isn't even an issue rooted in today's culture...it stems back decades to preferential treatment of athletes and has snowballed to where it is today.

Teachers, doctors, police officers, firefighters, our military....they all chose their position out of a desire to better society (hopefully). Athletes didn't! That's on us, America. We created this monster, and now we're mad about it!?

Let me ask you.....was Michael Jordan really a good role model?

Why don't you watch his Hall of Fame speech and get back with me on that. Jordan gambled, he held grudges, he condescended teammates and opponents alike, and he may or may not have had a mistress.

But....he was the best! Every child had a poster of him on their wall, his shoes on their feet, and a VHS copy of Space Jam!

Yet, he's a role model....and people like Richard Sherman are "thugs."

Give me a break. That's proof that perception is reality. If society chimes in that you're a hero, you're a hero, and vice-versa.

The truth is that Sherman is actually a pretty fascinating, articulate, and intelligent man.

You saw him as an out-of-control animal, but his words were completely calculated. He didn't use vulgar language. He didn't shout incoherently. He looked straight at the camera, and he said exactly what he felt. Even after he had a chance to calm down, he pronounced Crabtree as mediocre. He even went so far as to approach members of the Seahawks organization and inform them of his intent to insult Crabtree. How did they feel about that? They just asked him not to say anything about the Denver Broncos.

Speaking of the Broncos, if Sherman is such an unstable Neanderthal, why didn't he take the bait when a reporter asked for his thoughts on facing Peyton Manning? There was a chance for him to ramble and spout cocky nonsense like "thugs" do, but he didn't. His response?

If you try to get in Peyton Manning's mind, you might get lost.

That doesn't sound like an uneducated goon to me. 

Sherman was also quick to support Seattle fans reiterating how much they deserved this win. You could tell this team took the burden of fighting for the spirit of an entire city on their shoulders. Seattle wants to prove itself as a football city, and they have 3 million people in the region behind them. How would you feel if you had just accomplished something this significant for such a large demographic? You'd probably be amped.

We are talking about a man who sat begrudgingly at his high school graduation ceremony, thinking of all the things he would be saying if he was the one giving the valedictory. Why? Because his 4.2 GPA was one tenth of a point lower than the one individual ahead of him. He had to "settle" for salutatorian.

We are talking about an individual who chose Stanford University over the much more popular University of Southern California because he valued an education. He would graduate with a degree in Communication (which explains his natural presence in front of a camera, and the fluidity with which he speaks), and spend his final year of eligibility pursuing a Master's degree.

We are talking about a man who, once arriving at Stanford, stayed in touch with all of those on his high school football team to remind them to study, to go to class, etc.

He's even started Blanket Coverage, a foundation developed to ensure as many children as he can possibly reach have adequate school supplies and clothing.

Noticing a trend? You still don't think Sherman knows what he's doing? His jersey sales climbed into the top 10 this week.  

He may talk a lot. He may be over the line. But he's certainly no classless thug.

Sherman has since acknowledged that his actions were misdirected and immature. He may be right, but his greatest regret is taking the focus of the game off of how well his teammates played. To casual fans who only watch these playoff games, the Seahawks are now labeled as "bad boys" or "villains." Guys you cheer against.

That's simply untrue. Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas are both incredibly gracious men. Marshawn Lynch hardly says a word. He's the polar opposite of Richard Sherman. He just eats his Skittles, and steamrolls anyone not in a Seahawks uniform.

That's the biggest downfall to this entire situation, and there you go again, society, casting out labels as you see fit.

Personally, I'm thankful to have someone like Richard Sherman to cheer for. In a world where robots are more prevalent than the Muhammad Ali types, it's refreshing and entertaining.

He's a lion. You're going to hear him roar...and you'll just have to deal with it.

If you want to read more on Richard Sherman's character and this topic in general, I'd suggest these pieces from Forbes , The Kansas City Star , Outkick the Coverage , and Sports Illustrated.

Ya'll take care!

Championship Sunday Drinking Game

credit image to Huffington Post

Happy Championship Sunday fellow football fans! In my opinion, this is the greatest day of the year on the football calendar. But I'm not writing this piece to give you opinions. That's boring. I'm here to do what I do best....provide you with some quality entertainment and a method to get blackout drunk since you won't be working tomorrow. 

THUS

The official SoBros Network Championship Sunday Drinking Game!

Though whiskey or rum will be required for doing shots, you should be advised to play with beer, at your own risk, and of course only if you're a legal resident of the United States....what's that? Right. that's now how the law works. I forgot being a legal resident is not enough, but you must be at least 21 years of age.

Which all my readers are.

-anyway-

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP
New England at Denver
3:00 PM ET

*Every time this contest is referred to as "Brady-Manning XV" or the "Brady-Manning Bowl," take a drink. This could probably do enough damage to have you on the floor before Russell Wilson even arrives at CenturyLink Field.

*Whenever the announcers mention that Wes Welker has played for both Brady & Manning, take a swig.

*If Eric Decker's pregnant-wife-half-naked GQ photo shoot is mentioned, do a shot. Then, show all of your friends the bizarre pictures...after all, nothing sets off a party like risque pregnant women photos.

*Every time John Elway is shown, take a drink. If his retiring on back-to-back Super Bowl victories is mentioned, you must stand, salute, and then chug.

*If LeGarrette Blount punches a Broncos player, finish your beer AND do a shot. 

*Tom Brady missed some practice this week due to 'illness,' if that is mentioned as an excuse for Brady being 'rusty,' you must roll your eyes, and take a drink.

*If John Fox's face reaches 2007 NFC Championship Tom Coughlin status, take a drink. Seriously, how did that man's face not crack open?

*If Tim Tebow is mentioned,  you must set your cold, frosty beverage down and pray. 

*If Julian Edelman's sweet messy combover is shown, take a drink. Should your wife/girlfriend swoon over his heir of mystery, take a shot.

*Every time the announcers suggest that the Patriots miss Rob Gronkowski, take a drink.

*Every time Peyton Manning audibly yells "Omaha," take a drink.

*If Tom Brady pulls off his patented Tom Brady quarterback sneak, take a drink.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
San Francisco at Seattle
6:30 PM ET

If the AFC Championship has you slurring words and possibly even dancing, you may want to sit this one out. Perhaps watch some of 60 Minutes to sober up.....otherwise, on to the evening game!

*If someone mentions that both quarterbacks were drafted by MLB teams, take a drink.

*If Skittles are mentioned in conjunction with Marshawn Lynch, take a drink. If fans throw Skittles on to the field, you must throw Skittles in your liquor of choice and shoot it.

*Every time Anquan Boldin is shown jawing with someone, you must remind all in the room that such is the behavior of classless men, then set your beer down and agree to never drink to said behavior.

*Every time the term "12th man" is used, take a drink.

*For every 49er that Marshawn Lynch steamrolls, you must proclaim "now THAT is a grown ass man!"  Take a swig!

*If an announcer claims that there is "no love lost" between Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh, chug your beer and hope that the two duke it out in fisticuffs at mid-field after the game.

*If Kaepernick kisses his bicep, take a drink. If last week's mockery of Cam Newton is mentioned, you must stand, do Newton's signature Superman pose, then take a shot.

*If Jim Harbaugh runs wildly out onto the field, finish your beer. If he's flagged for it, you must shotgun your next beer. 

*If the Seattle fish market is shown, take a drink.

*If Donte Whitner's desire to change his name to "Donte Hitner" is mentioned, you must yell "child please" in honor of the ultimate name-changer, Chad JohnsOchoCinco, and take a drink.

*For every Richard Sherman interception, you must pronounce the media as 'ignorant idiots' and take a drink. After you've done this, you must silently mimic Sherman's spooning "feed me more" motion.

*If for some reason Mike Singletary is mentioned, take a shot. If his 'pants down' incident is mentioned, you must stand, pull your pants down, and shotgun a beer. 

In all seriousness, be safe, be smart, and have fun in the safety of your own home. Don't drink and drive.

Ya'll take care!

Don't forget to 'like' the Southern Brothers Network on Facebook 

Follow on Twitter @SoBrosNetwork 


Coping With the Offseason

credit image to wildonsports.com

Comrades, the winter blues are hitting us in full force. Temperatures are plummeting to sub-zero. Snow and ice are blanketing our streets, and if you reside in Nashville, you already understand the menace of foul weather traffic. Yes, facing the morning commute with even the threat of inclimate weather brings out a band of drivers equivalent to a pack of raccoons manning a tank. 

Science has proven that people enter depression in the winter because of a lack of college football. I'm not qualified whatsoever to make that statement, but I just felt like it was the right thing to say. 

So, how do we, as a society, address this issue? Our citizens are calling for help! 

Well, given my enormous platform, I thought I would offer some advice as to how you can cope with the burden of the college football offseason. These recommendations are a combination of things I've used successfully, and things I haven't tried and literally JUST made up, but sounded prophetic in the moment. Enjoy!

1. Avoid the NFL

I know, I know....this may come as a surprise....but if you're a diehard fan of college football, the NFL will NOT help you. The playoffs may subtly wean you of off football altogether. However, there's a great risk that you are going to see a player on the field that will remind you of your favorite team. "Oh that Erik Walden...he played at Middle Tennessee State. They upset Maryland a few seasons ago, and the fans stormed the field! I MISS COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!!" It's quite possible this will produce irreversible sadness. 

2. Avoid all other sports in general

Most games outside of tackle football are simply pageants. Watching them won't satiate your appetite for the SEC, and will leave you feeling as though you've just been lectured by the infamous Big Ten feminist in a Bill Cosby sweater. Not only will you crave football more, but you will likely contemplate what you are doing with your life.  

3. Watch old footage of your team's glory days

This will provide you with a nice buffer into life after football. You'll end the season on a high note, feeling good about who you are and what you have accomplished as a fan....which is a lot....

4. Movie marathons

Always a good idea, the movie marathon is key for blacking out large portions of your time and occupying your mind. I used to have movie marathons every day, until my father threatened to whoop my bare ass with barbed wire if I didn't get a job. I was 28 at the time, and have done a lot of growing up to realize that movie marathons only work in proper context. Mix it up by organizing themed movie nights. For example, Johnny Depp movie night is always a hit.....just avoid football movies (at least until the NFL draft).

5. Spend a week in the untamed wild.

It may sound like an extreme commitment, but one incredibly successful way to cope with the college football offseason is to walk into the woods with nothing but a pair of boots, a knife, and a thin layer of clothing (optional). No shelter, no food, no contact with the human race. You'd be surprised at how quickly your need for college football vanishes when your very survival is at stake. I tried this once...for an entire month. The one piece of advice I'd pass down to you regarding this practice: it's important to inform loved ones of your plan. I returned to my family after a month of naked roughneck-ing on the Appalachian Trail only to discover they had moved on from memory, accepting that I had disappeared forever. This hard adjustment made it much easier for me to not focus on college football, but I'd still prefer that my wife did not remarry.

6. Buy a puppy

I know what you're thinking, and I do apologize. It seems like rather lazy journalism of me to suggest buying a puppy in this situation. It is common knowledge that buying a puppy will cure most of life's ailments. This fact is often cited in general sociology courses, however, most people forget this little nugget in their sorrows. This principle is both a comfort and an occupation...two birds, one stone sort of logic. This is also something you can pull off without consulting your significant other! Everyone loves puppies! Literally, no one on Earth thinks this is a bad idea. I've seen the survey myself.

7. Do things that people who don't like college football do.

I can't really help you on this one. I love college football, and have NO idea what people who don't like college football do. In my mind, people who don't like college football simply don't exist. Their voices never heard, they typically drown themselves in mediocrity. But, one can assume, through deductive reasoning, that if you do things that people who don't like college football do, you will think less about college football. Careful though, if you follow this practice with enough fervor, you might end up forgetting college football ever existed. 

8. Do something incredibly dangerous

You will undoubtedly have the most fun with this one. In countless testimonies, people who have almost died become instantly grateful for what they have, and lose the materialistic whims that once plagued their everyday thoughts. It's really a simple formula. If you almost die, you will be grateful that you ever got to witness college football to begin with, and the longing for more will subside. I haven't proven this yet, but rest assured, I'm trying. Some of the things you may try include: robbing a bank, swimming with sharks in blood-stained khakis, mountain climbing with a badger in your backpack, and eating the proper amount of maple syrup to induce a coma. 

9. Compile your memoirs

Don't be intimidated by the process...anyone who can string together half a sentence can be called an "author" in today's society. Work arduously on your memoirs. You don't even need inspiration! You can literally just pen whatever pops into your head...even if it's about college football. This will occupy your mind and provide a gift to pass down for generations. Once you've completed your work and the idea of no college football has comfortably settled into your mind, you must immediately destroy your work. If you do not, you won't have a story to tell next offseason. This is one method I've practiced for the past 8 years. 

10. Avoid your job

This is paramount. Most of you likely hate your job, hate your boss, or hate your co-workers...perhaps all three. Well, pay very close attention here. College football is often an escape from the daily grind. If you go to work, chances are you will resent your work....well, what happens if your escape is GONE!?!? You will do something rash and uncalled-for. I guarantee it. You'll want to sit out of work for at least 3 days, and it's best not to talk about what's going on. Talking about your feelings only makes matters worse. In fact, if you can stretch it out to a 6-day absence, they will likely never ask you to come to work again.

That's about all of the advice I can pass on today. But remember, "as goes the spirit, so goes the will." I just made that up, but it's so good, I simply can't delete it now. Best wishes to all of you who are embarking on this long 8-month journey towards meaningful college football!

Ya'll take care!

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Johnny Manziel declares for 2014 NFL Draft

credit image to thesportsgrid.com

All of the broken records....all of the SEC wins....the Cotton Bowl...the Chick-Fil-A Bowl....the HEISMAN....we've all witnessed one of the greats in college football history. Now, it's time to close the chapter on Johnny Manziel's career at Texas A&M. 

Did this come as a surprise to anyone? I don't know everyone in the world, so scientifically, I can't say no....but I want to. 

The hype surrounding Manziel has boiled over, and as a college athlete, you're taught to strike while the iron's hot. If you're a first round pick, GO! That's precisely what Johnny Manziel is going to be come April. Scouts project him to be a first-round draft pick in a quarterback rich class.

You've probably seen him play if you've turned to ESPN at all since 2012. Nonetheless, let's review some more of his accomplishments:

Manziel accounted for 5,116 yards of offense in 2012 (SEC record), and finished just 11 yards short of reaching 10,000 career yards of offense, a feat no sophomore had ever completed. Texas A&M was 20-6 during Manziel's tenure as the Aggies' starter - only losing to ranked SEC teams. 

Should we mention the super models? I guess that has no relevance in football....unless your name is Joe Namath. 

Coincidentally, Manziel has drawn comparisons to Joe Namath...Archie Manning....and Drew Brees (?). This is certainly high praise, though some of his critics have compared him to another SEC legend, Tim Tebow.

While Johnny Manziel certainly won't be circumcising children in Africa, I can certainly see some parallels between the two: larger-than-life college quarterbacks....SEC programs....yadda yadda yadda.

But Manziel has one big thing that Tebow doesn't: accuracy throwing the football. It'll be interesting to see where "Johnny Football" ends up, but one thing is certain....he's a force to be reckoned with on and off the field. 

Time to get paid! 


Predicting Tonight's BCS Championship

credit image to redeyechicago.com

Las Vegas loves Florida State. In fact, the entire nation (minus the "Loveliest Village on the Plains") seems to believe Florida State is going to win, and win convincingly. We here at the Southern Brothers Network are not so convinced....okay, maybe I'm the only one, even here, who is not sold on Florida State. Hell, it may just be me and the bustling metropolis of Auburn, Alabama who think the Tigers are going to win big in Pasadena. 

With that in mind, here are my main talking points for tonight's BCS Championship game:

Florida State has played a lot of fluff. Let's face it:  the ACC is NOT a good football conference. To borrow a line of logic from Regina George....quit trying to make the ACC happen...it's just not going to happen! The Seminoles enter this game playing the weakest schedule of any team to earn a bid to the BCS Championship in the game's history. 

Sure, Florida State played 4 ranked teams this season, but those 4 teams were #25 Maryland, #20 Duke, #7 Miami, and #3 Clemson. Outside of an impressive Orange Bowl victory, those teams are 0-3 in bowl games...with Texas A&M defeating Duke, Louisville slaughtering Miami, and Marshall defeating Maryland. Again, quit trying to make the ACC happen...

Auburn has played 6 ranked teams this season, 3 of those consecutively to close the season, including the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide and the #5 Missouri Tigers. Auburn is 3-1 against top 10 teams this season, with the only loss coming at the hands of the Bayou Bengals down in Baton Rouge. They will show up to this game as a battle-tested unit, but can you truly say the same for Florida State?

Florida State hasn't been smacked in the face all season, and get out of here with your Boston College talk. With Tre Mason leading a talented group of running backs and the dual threat of Nick Marshall at quarterback, expect that to change. How will the Seminoles respond? 

Auburn's offense is unstoppable...not because of the players, but because of the coach. Gus Malzahn is an offensive guru. Seriously, he's written a book on it. The problem for Florida State is that it can't really do much to take Gus Malzahn out of the game. No matter what happens, he's still going to be on the sideline coaching and, more importantly, adjusting. 

Gary Pinkel laid out the blueprint for slowing down Auburn. You MUST...I repeat, MUST penetrate the line of scrimmage and blow up the Tigers' option BEFORE the play takes off. If you sit around and play reactionary football, it will be a long night for your defense. Does Florida State have the horses to pull this off for 4 quarters?

Pundits consider Florida State's run game "formidable" citing 5.7 yards per carry and 41 rushing touchdowns. However, the writers don't seem to take into account that Auburn has defeated two teams that run the ball BETTER than FSU in the last two games of the season. The Seminoles average ~30 yards less per game than Missouri. When you watch Mizzou, you'll notice a team comparable to Florida State, but with an inferior quarterback. We witnessed Auburn dismantle said Missouri team in the 4th quarter of the SEC championship. Sure, Jameis Winston earns the 'Noles points over Missouri, but I just don't see this game playing out much differently than the SEC Championship. Depending on how you rank the 2 offenses, Florida State gets the edge in skill, while Auburn gets the edge in system.

No one is talking about this because, well frankly, it's stupid. Florida State isn't an undisciplined team, but they have committed 70 penalties for 634 yards this season. You can't help Auburn's defense. Again, this is downright nitpicking, but penalties always end up being one of those things we talk about in hindsight. Florida State can't let the media say "Well, if not for that pass interference call, the Seminoles likely keep Auburn out of the end zone."

Don't get me wrong by reading this, I can certainly see a scenario in which Florida State wins this game. The Seminoles defense is head and shoulders above Auburn's, but the Tigers' offense is so good that I believe it'll be nullified. But, what happens if the offense shows up a bit rusty, and the porous Auburn defense allows Jameis Winston to hang 14-21 unanswered points in the first quarter? Is Auburn built to play catch-up? No. Both offenses are going to have to score with every possession. 

Ultimately, you just can't mess with destiny. Sometimes I wonder if Gus Malzahn has somehow come into possession of Aladdin's lamp. It's ridiculous to try and fully comprehend how much of a turnaround has taken place at Auburn in 2013. On top of that, the team is in this position by being the beneficiaries of perhaps the 2 most miraculous college football plays in BCS history. Win this game, and they just might add the tale of the 2013 Auburn Tigers to "Arabian Nights."

For me, it's simple. Auburn is going to control the clock, keep Jameis Winston on the sideline, and pound the football for four quarters. See ya next season!

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Gus Malzahn named AP Coach of the Year

Credit image to Sports Illustrated

How many people thought that Auburn Tigers would go from (3-9) in 2012 to (12-1) in 2013? How many thought that Auburn had a chance to play for a BCS Championship? I wonder if Gus Malzahn himself thought he could accomplish what he has so quickly. 

For his efforts, Malzahn was awarded with the Associated Press' National Coach of the Year honors. 

Such an award is both well-deserved and mildly contested. Only one other coach in the nation garnered success in a comparable fashion: David Cutcliffe at Duke. However, the AP got it right. Malzahn finished with 33 first place votes; Cutcliffe with 17. Michigan State's Mike Dantonio & Florida State's Jimbo Fisher earned 3 each.

Auburn's success this season was due, in full (let's not beat around the bush), to Malzahn's offense. The Tigers hurry-up tempo and unpredictable triple-read-option was a direct result of Coach Malzahn's system. That system made them incredibly difficult to beat once the players bought in.

But, Malzahn didn't simply plug in a new system and run rampant over the SEC. He had to take a team that went 0-8 in conference play last season, and build them from the ground up. 

He essentially replaced the foundation and started anew.....and it worked perfectly. These types of turnarounds are very rare in college football. 

Gus Malzahn earned every vote he received.

Ya'll take care!

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