How a college star changed my life

I was 10 years old when my father, Jack Hague, passed away in 1971. I was truly devastated by the loss. He was my Little League coach, my life mentor, my biggest supporter, my friend. He was sick, dead and gone in a matter of three weeks, dying on New Year’s Eve. His illness was the way I found out the truth about Santa Claus, because we didn’t celebrate Christmas that year.

After my Dad died, I was extremely moody. I cried an awful lot. I kept to myself mostly, except for a few close friends. It was a tough time for all of us, but it was really hard on a growing, impressionable young boy who thought he knew it all _ and didn’t want anyone to tell him otherwise.

The next summer after Dad died, my neighbors in the St. Paul’s of Greenville Parish did a wonderfully nice thing for me. They raised a lot of money to send me to the NFL Players Association football camp at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. I don’t know whose idea it was to send me to the camp. It was either my St. Paul’s grammar school football coachBill DeFazio or my sixth grade teacher John Tennessen. They both believed that football would point me in the right direction in life.

It was the first time that I was away from home on my own. I was 11. My mother, who didn’t even know how to drive yet, went with me to the Port Authority Bus Terminal to get on the bus to go to the camp.

As I got off the bus, carrying my brand new gym bag bought in the Great Western for three dollars (never had a gym bag before), the organizers said that quarterbacks went one way and running backs went another. I thought I was going to be the next Johnny Unitas, so I went with the quarterbacks. In fifth grade, it was the only position I knew.

But one of the big, burly organizers pointed me with the linemen. “You’re a lineman, son. You’re a big guy.”

He must have known something, because I was not the behemoth I am today by a long shot. Believe it or not, at age 11, I was somewhat of a runt. I later evovled into Gigantor in high school.

There was a problem to all of this. I didn’t want to be a lineman. I wanted to be Johnny U, my idol.

So when I was pushed off with the bigger kids, I started to do what I always did back then. I cried.

I was away from home. I wanted to go home. Right there and then. I was done. I knew I wasn’t too far from my brother’s house, so he could come get me. But I also thought of all those people who donated a dollar here and there to send me to the camp. How could I let them down if I came home after the first day? I’d be a disgrace to the neighborhood.

So I sat on a log and I cried. Cried some more. Got made fun of by the other kids, but I didn’t care, because I didn’t know anyone. I cried and cried. They started football activities right away, but I just sat on this log by myself and cried.

Then this huge burly guy came over to me. I couldn’t see his face because of the sun. I looked up and just saw a gigantic figure.

“Son, I heard you don’t want to be a lineman,” the voice said. “Well, I’m going to teach you to become a lineman.”

He stuck out his huge hand and helped me off the log. As I stood up, I recognized the face right away. It was Merlin Olsen, the All-Pro defensive tackle of the Los Angeles Rams, who after he retired, became famous for his roles on “Little House on the Prairie”and “Father Murphy” and as a sportscaster or even more importantly as the spokesperson for FTD flowers on commercials.

Olsen is the reason why I became a Rams fan. And I’m still a diehard Rams fan today. I have an autographed picture of the “Fearsome Foursome” hanging on my bedroom wall, with Merlin’s signature right there. My friends gave it to me for my 40th birthday.

At the same camp, my counselor, who was in charge of me and about 20 other kids, was the starting quarterback at the University of Oklahoma back then, a wonderful young man named Steve Davis.

Davis and I hit it off pretty well that week and he promised to keep in touch if I gave him my address. So I did.

About three weeks later, the UPS delivery man came to my house carrying a huge box. It was addressed to me. As an 11 year old, I never got boxes before, so I was thrilled. In the box was an assortment of Oklahoma stuff, a hat, a pennant, a T-shirt, bumper stickers, posters, notebooks, pencils, you name it. The letter in the box was from Davis.

“Keep working hard, James,” the letter was signed.

I was a Sooner fan for life and still am. Steve Davis made me a Sooner fan and Merlin Olsen made me a Ram fan and that has never changed.

I got to see Steve Davis several times at Giants Stadium, when he was working the Kickoff Classic for CBS Sports. I had to remind him who I was, but he remembered and we shared memories of that memorable week at Lehigh.

Yesterday, as I sat down at my computer to cover the Devils-Rangers game, I clicked Yahoo! Sports like I do almost every day. The first story that popped up was that Steve Davis was killed in a plane crash Monday. The private jet he was in hit a row of houses in South Bend, Indiana. Steve Davis, the starting quarterback on two Oklahoma national championship teams, was 60 years old.

I paused for a second and then did what I did when I was 11 years old. I cried.

I hadn’t seen Steve since perhaps 1996 or so, but every time I put on one of my 35 Oklahoma T-shirts, one of my 25 Sooner hats or my gaudy Oklahoma fleece, he always came to mind.

It also made me reflect that some of the most inspirational people in my life are now all gone _ my Dad, my coaches like Bill DeFazio, Dick BranaganBill Gargiulo; and then those two people who changed my life in the summer of 1972, Merlin Olsen and Steve Davis. They’re all gone and that’s a shame.

I hope OU recognizes Steve Davis in some capacity this season. It’s almost eerie to think that he went down in South Bend and the Sooners play there this fall.

I will always remember how good Davis was to a moody 11-year-old and how good he made that kid feel when that box arrived. I felt like a king, pulling one thing after another after that box. For that _ and for making me a Boomer Sooner _ I’ll always be grateful. Rest in peace, Steve.


Just a quick bit on Seton Hall basketball. The worst kept secret since Michael Strahangot to sit next to annoying Kelly Ripa every day became official when one of the two talented players on the Pirates’ roster, Aaron Cosby, came through with what was rumored and announced he was leaving the Hall to transfer elsewhere.

Losing Cosby was yet another blow to the tenure of Kevin Willard, who has done very little to earn this six-year contract extension that is also being rumored about.

Willard has done no recruiting whatsoever, except getting the quartet of lackluster performers from the same secondary school in Spain. None of those four kids can play.

The one good recruit was Cosby and he’s now left, because he was not happy with the way Willard treated him.

And the two recruits that Willard went after have now both been charged with felony assault.

That’s just awesome. The Pirates went 13-17, lost almost every single game under the sun since New Year’s Day and don’t have any top recruits coming in for next year. There were several top New Jersey players who the staff didn’t even bother to approach.

Reggie Cameron and Kavon Stewart of Hudson Catholic? Nope. Didn’t get a call.Hallice Cooke and Josh Brown of St. Anthony? Sorry. Trevis Wyche of St. Peter’s Prep? Not him either.

Right there are five kids less than 15 miles from the South Orange campus and they didn’t get a sniff, but those four kids from that school in Spain panned out great, right?

Haralds Karlis, who can’t put the ball in the basket whatsoever, would not play at neighboring NJIT. He’s not good enough. Tom Mayaan, who was supposed to be a god-send point guard, also can’t shoot his uniform number. By the way, he wore 0.

That program is a complete mess and Willard gets a six-year extension? That’s because the new AD, Patrick Lyons, worked with Willard at Iona. The new head of the Pirate Blue Fund? He comes from Iona, too. They’re also pursuing the Iona women’s basketball coach to replace the departing Anne Donovan as the Pirates’ head women’s coach.

Since when did Iona become the pattern school and athletic program that everyone should follow? They’re turning South Orange into South New Rochelle, a Gael-force wind of changes. Iona was no big shakes, a program constantly flirting with NCAA probation. “I-O-N-A, Idiots on North Avenue,” is the chant that the Fordham student section used to spew to rile up the Iona faithful. Well, that’s where Seton Hall is headed. A bigger, less boisterous version of Iona.

Which makes no sense whatsoever _ just like this reported extension Willard received. Until Willard landed a good solid local recruit, he shouldn’t have received an additional penny, never mind six years.

OK, here goes, the great predictions on the entire NCAA Tournament

In the Midwest, we’re going with Louisville over whomever they play first round, Missouri over Colorado State, Oklahoma State (this Marcus Smart kid is a player to watch) over Oregon, St. Louis over New Mexico State, Memphis over St. Mary’s (I think, this play-in crap has me reeling), Michigan State over Valpo, Cincy over Creighton and Duke over Albany.

Continuing there, then it’s Louisville over Missouri, Oklahoma State over St. Louis, Michigan State over Memphis and Duke over Cincinnati (sorry Darren Savino).
Then I have Louisville over Oklahoma State and Duke over Michigan State and Duke over Louisville in the final.

In the West, I got Gonzaga over Southern, Pitt over Wichita State, Ole Miss over Wisconsin, Kansas State over my mother, Arizona over Belmont, New Mexico over Harvard (take that, Tommy Amaker), Notre Dame over Iowa State and Ohio State over Seton Hall North, oops, I mean Iona.

Staying there, I like Pitt over Gonzaga (the first big upset of the tourney), Ole Miss andAndy Kennedy and Marshall Henderson over Kansas State, Arizona over New Mexico and Ohio State over Notre Dame. Then I like Pitt over Ole Miss and Ohio State over Arizona and Pitt to go to the Final Four, joining Duke.

In the South, let’s go with Kansas over Western Kentucky (in a nailbiter) and North Carolina over Villanova, who I still can’t believe is in the tournament. Then I have VCU over Akron and Michigan over South Dakota State, UCLA and my boy Kyle Anderson over Minnesota and Florida and my boys Mike Eusebio and assistant coach Rashon Burnoover Northwestern State. I like San Diego State over Oklahoma (only root for Sooners in football) and Georgetown over Florida Gulf Coast, which sounds like a place I’d rather be right now than cold Kearny, NJ.

Staying there, I like Kansas over North Carolina, Michigan over VCU, Florida over UCLA and Georgetown over San Diego State. Then I have Michigan over Kansas and Florida over Georgetown and the Gators of Florida going to Atlanta in the Final Four with Duke and Pitt.

On the East side, I like Indiana over the Jersey City YMCA, then NC State over Temple, UNLV over California and Syracuse over Montana (although the Grizzlies’ people were sure nice to this Biggun when I visited Missoula). It’s Butler over Bucknell and the Golden Eagle Warriors of the greatest Jesuit university this side of Lake Michigan taking care of Davidson. Coach McKillop is a nice man who I met at the Coaches Party in Detroit and had a few libations together, but he’s not taking out Buzz and the boys from my alma mater. I also like Colorado over Illinois and Miami over Pacific.

Staying there, I have Indiana over NC State, Syracuse over UNLV, Marquette over Butler (avenging that horrible loss to begin the season) and Miami over Colorado.
Then it’s Indiana over Syracuse and Miami over my beloved Marquette. Some have picked Marquette to go further. I can’t see it. If Buzz pulls that off, they should rename Wisconsin Avenue as Buzz Boulevard.
Then it’s Indiana over Miami to go to the Final Four.

So I have Duke, Pitt, Florida and Indiana at the Final Four in Atlanta, with Duke beating Pitt, Indiana beating Florida and then Indiana defeating Duke to win the national title.

And yes, my old friend Tom Crean gets a national crown, just not with my beloved Golden Eagle Warriors.

So there’s the tournament in a nutshell.

Thanks for reading as always.

You can read more of my work at

Memories of the Big East, as it once was

Georgetown will face Syracuse today in the Big East Conference tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

If there’s ever been a more fitting showdown for the final Big East tourney as we once knew it, it’s a matchup of the Orange and the Hoyas, two of the original members of the old league, two of the titans of the Big East.

OK, so James Southerland isn’t exactly Billy Owens and Otto Porter isn’t the same as Reggie Williams, but the meaning is still there. Sure, it’s Boeheim vs. Thompson, but this time, it’s the big, burly Thompson’s kid, not the menacing giant with the towel draped on his shoulder.

But it’s almost like karma that these two teams face each other today for the very last time _ unless they somehow meet in the Final Four. Syracuse took the ACC’s money and ran, a move that really didn’t make much sense for their entire athletic program, considering Syracuse is only beginning to become relevant in football again after many years of dormancy.

I don’t care what bowl game Syracuse goes to in the years to come, because the school was, is and always will be a basketball school _ make that a basketball powerhouse.

And we all know what Georgetown is.

But Syracuse leaving for the greener (as in $$$$$) pastures of the ACC can’t exactly excite the rabid followers of Orange basketball. Are they getting pumped up right now for that classic Syracuse-Clemson showdown? How about the Orange against Virginia Tech? Or even Virginia, for that matter? I just cannot see 30,000 screaming basketball junkies jamming the Carrier Dome for those games. Sure, Duke and North Carolina will stir some interest, but the rest of the ACC? There are no rivalries there.

Not like Syracuse-St. John’s in the heyday, with Pearl Washington going up againstChris Mullin. Or Syracuse against Villanova or Syracuse-UConn. Those were basketball games.

So this is the final year of the Big East as we once knew it. Sure, there will be a conference called the Big East next year and some of the familiar names, like Georgetown, St. John’s and Villanova will be part of it, as will my alma mater, Marquette. They’ll even play the tournament in Madison Square Garden, the arena that helped to build the Big East.

But will it be the Big East? Hardly. Not without Syracuse. Not without Pitt. Those were Big East mainstays.

For me, the Big East will be 1985, when three members of the league went to the Final Four in Lexington, Kentucky and Villanova shocked the world by stealing the NCAA title. Earlier that year, St. John’s and Georgetown met in a regular season game at the Garden, with Patrick Ewing going up against Mullin and Walter Berry. They were the top two teams in the country, facing off on a Wednesday night, with the Garden abuzz. Lou Carnesecca had that ugly sweater and Thompson unveiled a matching one. It was classic showmanship.

That game was so huge that practically every sports fan in Jersey City flocked to bars in Bayonne, because Jersey City didn’t have cable television yet. I remember standing the entire game watching in a now-defunct bar in Bayonne, where a Domino’s pizza store now stands, and the place was packed with Jersey City basketball fans.

There were other great moments, like Pearl Washington’s three-quarter court running shot, like the 1996 tourney final pitting Allen Iverson against Ray Allen, like the six overtime classic between UConn and Syracuse, like the sharpshooting of Gerry McNamara.

There were even the two Big East Tournament titles won by local favorite Seton Hall, championships thought to be unreachable when the Hall was the doormat of the league in its inception.

It was a basketball haven for Hall of Fame coaches. Just think of all the coaching greats that participated in that league. Thompson, Boeheim, Carnesecca, Calhoun, Pitino _ all Hall of Famers.

So the Big East as we knew it ends this weekend. It should remain a strong basketball conference for the years to come with the Catholic 7, along with Xavier and Butler, forming a solid conglomeration.

But can it match what it once was? No way, no how.

And we can thank the pursuit, the greed of the almighty green, for the league’s passing.

It’s basically like Dallas replacing Barbara Bel Geddes with Donna Reed or the Three Stooges replacing Curly with Shemp. Sure, the show must go on, but it’s just not the same show.

And for a basketball purist like me, it’s sad.

I was already in love with college basketball by the time the Big East came around during my senior year of high school. I already watched Bill Walton capture my fancy with the UCLA teams and saw David Thompson became David Skywalker during his North Carolina State days in the early 1970s.

And of course, I was hooked by the time my future school, Marquette, won it all in 1977.

But the Big East became my home. I gobbled up those games, those tournaments, those memories.

It’s a shame that it all ends, the way it was, this weekend. That’s why Georgetown-Syracuse tonight proves to be something special, one for the ages, one last dance to remember what it once was.


I am so totally through with Mike Francesa.

The blow-hard egotistical windbag sealed that deal earlier this week, when he took yet another passing blow at the New York Jets and especially head coach Rex Ryan.

Now, I’m not a Jets fan, but Francesa made it a point to open his show Wednesday morning taking more pot shots at the Jets and Ryan. However, this time, the narcoleptic know-it-all actually went as far as to say that maybe the Jets could play all four quarterbacks at the same time. He thought that was funny.

But when he went as far as to say, “And where is Rex during all of this? He’s invisible. He thinks he lost so much weight that he can’t be seen.”

Now, Francesa should have taken a slice of life from his former good friend Bill Parcells,who used to be as thick as thieves together, owning horses together, and now don’t speak. Gee, I wonder why.

Where in the world does Francesa get off criticizing someone for losing weight? As Parcells once said,  it was time for Francesa to take a long look “at the man in the glass,” because Francesa is beyond portly.

I’ve had it with Francesa’s condescending tone to callers, his hypocritical approach with interview guests, where he kisses their collective asses when they’re in front of him, then blasts them when they’re gone. I’m done with him constantly repeating himself, over and over, to the point of annoyance.

Did anyone catch his reporting of the new Pope? It’s beyond ridiculous. And for that, he gets paid in the millions.

But when you’re a fat ass (like I am as well), you have no right to make fun of someone’s weight loss. If you are in dire need of a salad to go along with that Diet Coke you swill, then you cannot poke fun at a guy like Ryan, who had the lapband surgery and has dropped over 100 pounds.

I’m done with him. I was an avid listener and even called the mo-mo to knock him down a few pegs when he was wrong about St. Peter’s playing Monmouth in that 6 a.m. game a few years ago. He had no idea what he was talking about.

Now, I won’t listen. I have better things to tune in to. Like 80s on 8 on XM Radio.

Come on Eileen from Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Much better than blowhard Francesa any day.

You can read more of my work at, where I have a great feature about famed figure skater JoJo Starbuck and her twin sons. Check it out.

Separation of Church and State Conference AKA The Big East and Fox Sports Announce Partnership

Beginning in the 2013-14 Academic Year, the newly redesigned Big East Conference has announced a landmark 12 year media contract with Fox to be the lead media rights partner of the conference.  Included in the new contract will be 100 Men’s Basketball games, select Women’s Basketball and game certain Olympic Sports broadcasts.  Also, Fox Sports One will be launching a mobile app for computers, tablets and mobile phones which they will also have the rights for branded as “TV Anywhere”.

Here is the release.

big east logoFOX Sports 1


Rights Commence in 2013-14 Academic Year
Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament Coming to FOX Sports 1

New York – The Big East Conference, boasting ten institutions with tradition-rich athletics programs and FOX Sports have entered into a landmark 12-year multi-platform media rights agreement beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. The announcement was made today during a press conference held in New York City attended by the presidents of the Big East’s member institutions, along with FOX Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer and FOX Sports Executive Vice President, Larry Jones. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The reconstituted Big East Conference now features Butler University, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s and Seton Hall are all founding members of the Big East, which began conference play in 1979. Villanova was added in 1980, while DePaul and Marquette joined in 2005. The official addition of Butler, Creighton and Xavier universities was also announced during the press conference today.

The agreement grants FOX Sports rights to all conference-controlled men’s basketball games, select rights to women’s basketball, all Olympic sports and extensive rights for highlights and to produce ancillary programming.

FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports’ newly minted national multi-sport channel which launches this summer, is slated to televise over 100 men’s regular-season basketball games next season. The network is also scheduled to carry the entire Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament each season, live from Madison Square Garden in New York City, the tournament’s home since 1983, and the longest-running conference tournament played at one venue.

“We applaud all the Big East schools for taking responsibility for their own destiny and forming what is clearly one of the top college basketball leagues in the country,” said Freer. “The quality of the competition is obvious. Five teams who will play in the renewed Big East next season are playing in this year’s NCAA tournament, and seven qualified for postseason play overall. We’re extremely proud and fortunate to offer college basketball of this caliber on FS1 next season and for many seasons to come.”
Added Father Dennis Holtschneider, President of DePaul University: “The New Big East is fortunate to have found a partner such as FOX Sports, which shares our intense passion for college basketball, and is committed to celebrating the student-athletes and the natural rivalries that make college athletics so unique and appealing for fans across the nation.”

In addition to this season’s men’s basketball success, schools in the new Big East are a basketball force annually, with a long tradition of NCAA tournament play. Over the years, the new Big East’s 10 member institutions have combined for well over 200 NCAA tournament appearances.

Also included in the agreement is a full array of “TV Everywhere” rights which adds to the robust content already available on, one of the nation’s leading sports Internet sites and FOX Sports GO, a groundbreaking mobile sports experience for iPhone, iPad and Android devices launching this August in conjunction with FS1. FOX Sports GO offers more than 1,000 live games and events from across FOX Sports, FS1 and FOX Sports’ 22 regional sports networks, as well as scores, highlights, news, stats, and analysis. Live games and events are available to subscribers of participating cable, satellite, and telco providers at no additional cost.

Today’s announcement with the Big East Conference reaffirms FOX Sports’ long-term commitment to college sports programming. In the last two-and-a-half years, FOX Sports has procured multi-platform media rights associated with five major collegiate conferences: Big East; Big Ten (; Big 12 (; Conference USA (; and Pac-12 (

FOX Sports now boasts a comprehensive portfolio of college product, with approximately 2,000 marquee events showcased through national and regional platforms, including FOX Sports broadcasts, FS1, FSN, Big Ten Network and FOX College Sports. In addition to the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Conference USA and Pac-12, FOX Sports’ impressive roster of other conference partners includes the local rights with the ACC and SEC. FOX Sports also has multimedia third-tier rights agreements with Baylor, Florida, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, which include football, men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and additional non-game programming.

What We Know About The New Big East/Fox Contract

Now that the Catholic 7, err, Big East, err The Separation of Church and State Conference has 1 elected a new pope, 2 seen his inaugural mass,  the sports comes back to the front burner.

A special contribution to What’s Brewin from our friend Ken Fang of

On Wednesday, the TV deal between “The Catholic 7,” those basketball schools that broke away from The Big East and took the conference them with them, and Fox Sports will be announced.

Along with the announcement, three additional schools, Xavier, Creighton and Butler, will be unveiled as those joining the Catholic 7.

So before the press conference at the News Corp. World Headquarters in New York, let’s take a look at what we know about the new Big East contract with Fox:

  • The TV rights deal will reportedly be a 12 year, $500 million contract with Fox. It could grow to $600 million if the conference grows to 12 teams.
  • Games will carried on Fox Sports 1 joining the Big 12, Conference USA and the Pac-12.
  • The new Big East will carry on the tradition of Monday night games. A source says that Fox Sports 1 will spread the new Big East to other nights as well.
  • Fox is expected to sublicense games to other networks, most likely ESPN, however, this has not been finalized.
  • The conference tournament will be played at Madison Square Garden as part of another long-term deal.
  • No word yet on who will call the Big East on Fox Sports 1, however, it would most likely be Gus Johnson as the lead announcer for the Monday games and possibly the new Big East Tournament at MSG.

We’ll know more when the contract is made official on Wednesday.





Team Jones and Team Sonnen tied after preliminary fights as Bubba McDaniel wins Wild Card bout


Series continues next Tuesday on FX at 9 p.m. ET/PT


Las Vegas, Nevada – The Ultimate Fighter® returned to FX on Tuesday night with the ninth episode of the season – “The Wild Card”. For the first time since season 13, the Wild Card fight was re-introduced, providing an opportunity for fighters who have lost in the preliminary fights to get back in the competition. Bubba McDaniel, representing Team Jones, defeated Kevin Casey, representing Team Sonnen, by TKO in a shocking fashion.


Following two intense grappling rounds in the Octagon®, Casey, 5-1 in mixed martial arts, was unable to answer the bell for the sudden victory round, giving McDaniel, 20-6, the win and a shot at the quarterfinals. The loss marked only the third time in TUF history that a fighter has failed to answer the bell. Previously Jamie Yager (Season 11 – QF) didn’t answer the bell against Josh Bryant and David Faulkner (Season 9 – Preliminary round) didn’t answer the bell against Frank Lester.


full recap is available at


Results after episode eight:


Team Sonnen – coached by UFC® light heavyweight Chael Sonnen – (4-4)

Luke Barnatt (1-0, TKO win over Gilbert Smith in episode 2)

Uriah Hall (1-0, KO’d Adam Cella in episode 3)

Zak Cummings (0-1, lost a UD to Dylan Andrews in episode 8)

Tor Troeng (0-1, lost to Josh Samman via TKO in episode 6)

Jimmy Quinlan (1-0, submitted Clint Hester in episode 7)

Kevin Casey (0-2, lost a UD to Collin Hart in episode 4, lost via TKO [failure to answer to bell] to Bubba McDaniel in episode 9)

Kelvin Gastelum (1-0, submitted Bubba McDaniel in episode 5)


Team Jones – coached by UFC® light heavyweight champion Jon Jones – (4-4)

Clint Hester (0-1, submitted by Jimmy Quinlan in episode 7)

Josh Samman (1-0, defeated Tor Troeng by TKO in episode 6)

Bubba McDaniel (1-1, submitted by Kelvin Gastelum in episode 5, defeated Kevin Casey by TKO [failure to answer to bell] in episode 9)

Gilbert Smith (0-1, TKO’d by Luke Barnatt in episode 2)

Collin Hart (1-0, defeated Kevin Casey by UD in episode 4)

Adam Cella (0-1, KO’d by Uriah Hall in episode 3)

Dylan Andrews (1-0, defeated Zak Cummings by UD in episode 8)


After speaking to all the quarterfinalists one-by-one, Ultimate Fighting Championship® President Dana White selected the quarterfinal match-ups:

Collin Hart (Team Jones) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (Team Sonnen)

Dylan Andrews (Team Jones) vs. Luke Barnatt (Team Sonnen)

Josh Samman (Team Jones) vs. Jimmy Quinlan (Team Sonnen)

Bubba McDaniel (Team Jones) vs. Uriah Hall (Team Sonnen)


The series resumes next Tuesday, March 26, on FX at 9 p.m. ET/PT (check local listings for Central and Mountain Time). In that episode – “The Quarterfinals Begin” – A fighter gets a surprise visit from world champion Ronda Rousey as he prepares for his quarterfinal showdown. Then, with boxing legend Mike Tyson in attendance, Hart faces-off against Gastelum and Andrews meets Barnatt, trying to secure a spot in the final four.


Tickets for The Ultimate Fighter® Finale are on-sale now. To purchase tickets to the April 13th event at Mandalay Bay Events Center, or for more information, visit the Mandalay Bay Events Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations,, or charge-by-phone at 800.745.3000.


For more show information, and your chance to play the TUF Fantasy Tournament, visit and follow us on Twitter @TUFonFX or on






Bantamweights (135lbs) invited to try out for season 18 on April 15


Winner of Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano at The Ultimate Fighter® Finale on April 13 will coach Season 18 against Champion Ronda Rousey


Las Vegas, Nevada – The Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) organization will be hosting a casting call for the next US edition of its long-running reality series,The Ultimate Fighter®, on Monday April 15, 2013, in Las Vegas. For the first time ever in the history of the series, Season 18 will feature male and female bantamweight (135lbs) fighters.

All TUF 18 candidates must be at least 21 years old, have the legal ability to live & work in the United States, and have a minimum of three professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights – holding a winning record (with verifiable records). Applications, which should be completed and brought to the tryouts, can be found online at Tryout details are provided below:



Palace Station Hotel, 2411 West Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89102

Tryouts will be held in the Grand Ballroom



Monday April 15, 2013*

Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. PT


Fighters will be required to grapple & hit pads. Please bring appropriate gear.


*Applicants will be notified at the end of the tryouts if they have been selected to continue on in the casting process. If selected, applicants must be prepared to stay in Las Vegas until April 19.

The Ultimate Fighter, which debuted in 2005, has launched the careers of more than 100 UFC fighters and has produced past champions such as Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, Michael Bisping and Matt Serra. Bantamweights were most recently featured on The Ultimate Fighter 14, where John Dodson emerged as season winner.  


TUF 18 is expected to debut in the fall of 2013.


Tickets for season 17’s The Ultimate Fighter® Finale are on-sale now. To purchase tickets to the April 13th event at Mandalay Bay Events Center, or for more information, visit the Mandalay Bay Events Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations,, or charge-by-phone at 800.745.3000.


Catch all new episodes of this season of The Ultimate Fighter at 9 p.m. ET/PT.



Kickin’ It With Keeler Bracketpalooza Special


On Wednesday night, Kickin’ It With Keeler’s host Ricky Keeler will be hosting the NCAA Tournament Preview show for the 2nd straight year on the network. His BRACKETPALOOZA show gives listeners a unique breakdown to the NCAA Tournament from many different angles. The show starts at 9:00 PM ET and goes for three hours! This year, the show will feature a staple of Kickin’ It With Keeler throughout the past two months.

Over the course of those months, the show has had a segment called the Student Section Series where Ricky has talked with student reporters from the top college basketball teams during the season. Now, those reporters will re-convene Wednesday night to talk about their team’s chances in the bracket as well as the teams they like in their region.

Also, the show will feature two of the best bracketologists in the country. Daniel Evans and Blake Hofstad from will join the show to talk about the Selection Committee’s choices for the field of 68 as well as giving you their sleepers and Final Four predictions. These guys are previewing every 2nd round NCAA Tournament game on their website, so check those out. Ricky will also make his final four prediction exclusively on the show!

Below is a timeline of the reporters that will join Ricky during the course of this special 3-hour show:

  • 9:15 ET –   – The University News of Saint Louis University
  • 9:30 – Michael Norman – Indiana Student Daily
  • 9:45 – Colleen Thomas – Senior Sports Editor of the Michigan Block
  • 10:15 – Ernesto Suarez – Sports Editor at the Miami Hurricane
  • 10:45 – Nick Merchant – Editor-In-Chief of the Gonzaga Bulletin
  • 11:15 – Daniel Evans + Blake Hofstad – Resident Bracketologists

Also, if you have any tournament questions when you fill out your bracket, call into the show (646-929-2192) and our experts will give you the best information possible. Tune in and join in on the fun. Plus, the show will be live during Boise State-La Salle and will give updates on the game throughout the night!

March 14, 2013- The City of Brotherly Love?

Listen to internet radio with Matthew Barnaby on Blog Talk Radio

It’s a special Thursday edition of Gloves OFF! with your Host Matthew Barnaby

On Today’s show, the Philadelphia Flyers…. City of Brotherly Love?  Not right now!
John Tortorella….. need we say more?

Corey Perry….. Making news in more ways than one!

Visors…. Matthew will discuss the Pros and Cons….yes, the Cons!

Matthew may have been absent with the flu but he’s always ready for your Twitter questions… Always!

@MattBarnaby3636     #AskMatt     #GlovesOFF

Matthew shares his Mid-Season Awards picks…. Do you agree?

Wrapping up the show….. Game ON!  Two games that Matthew is looking forward to watching!

He’s getting his voice back…. He’s kicking the flu…. He’s doing this special Thursday episode just for you!

He’s baaaack to take the Gloves OFF!

2013 Big East Tournament Preview


Big East Tournament

After all of the in-season talk about conference re-alignment and the Catholic 7 staying in the New Big East, we finally get the chance to talk Big East hoops on the court. The Big East Tournament begins Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. It  will perceivably be the end of an era for one of the best conferences in college basketball over the past decade. This year, there is many storylines as some teams fight for seeding (Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette) while others fight for their slim NCAA Tournament hopes (Providence, St. John’s). Nevertheless, this tournament always provides its own share of fantastic finishes and creates legacies. Just ask former Connecticut guard Kemba Walker (“Cardiac Kemba”) and former Syracuse guard Gerry McNamarra.

With that being said, here is how I see the Big East tournament playing out:

Tuesday Night – 1st Round

USF over Seton Hall – The head of the network, George Brew, will not like this pick. However, I like the momentum the Bulls have going into this game. They are coming off of wins against DePaul and Connecticut along with a close overtime loss at Cincinnati to end the season. The Pirates seem to be losing players by the day, which hurts the depth of Kevin Willard’s squad. Seton Hall will need junior guard Fuquan Edwin to light it up from beyond  the arc (42.6% from 3-point land). South Florida is not a good team offensively, but they make up for it on the defensive end. Keep an eye on forward Victor Rudd, as he has scored in double figures in 5 of his last 6 games. It will be a close, low scoring game, but Stan Heath’s club finds a way to advance.

Rutgers over DePaul – For the second straight matchup, I am going against the trend because DePaul beat Rutgers in February at the RAC. However, the Scarlet Knights have played like the better team down the stretch, including a tough win at the Prudential Center last Friday. Back in February, they lost guard Eli Carter for the rest of the season. The Scarlet Knights miss his scoring, but their frontcourt with Kansas State transfer Wally Judge and senior Dane Miller at the forward position can attack the glass with a DePaul frontline that gives up 26 rebounds per game. The Scarlet Knights will have to watch out for the Blue Demons’ leading scorers in juniors Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin. DePaul has talent on the offensive end, but it is Rutgers’ defense that will get them the check mark in this matchup.


Wednesday – 2nd Round

Providence over Cincinnati – Yes, the Friars are back.  They have won 7 of their last 9 games and beat the Bearcats back on February 6th at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Ed Cooley has done a great job of maximizing the talent on the roster, which is why he would be my Big East Coach of the Year. They have the co-most improved player of the year in the conference (Kadeem Batts) and one of the top scorers in the league (Bryce Cotton). Plus, the Friars are the best rebounding team in the conference. As for Cincinnati, they are coming in on a slide, despite an OT win over USF on Saturday. They were one of the surprises in the conferences to start the year, but now the lack of scoring has become a surprise. Sean Kilpatrick was one of the early frontrunners for Big East POY, but he has only scored 20+ points in three of his last 12 games! Providence is a team that can score, so I expect this game to be high scoring as the Friars advance to the quarterfinals.
Syracuse over USF – Syracuse only scored 39 points on Saturday in their 28-point blowout loss at the hands of Georgetown. This is a ‘Cuse team that has struggled to score the basketball due to the inconsistent guard play from sophomore Michael Carter-Williams and senior Brandon Triche. Jim Boeheim would love his team win this tournament before heading to the ACC, but the offense has to perform because Syracuse already plays some of the toughest defenses in the conference. To do that, keep an eye on forward C.J Fair, who has averaged near 15 points per game, double his average from last year. The X-Factor for them is senior James Southerland, who was on his game until he served an academic suspension in January. Now, he is trying to find his rhythm again. ‘Cuse will win this game, but they will need Southerland to advance not only in this tourney, but in the NCAA’s.

Villanova over St. John’s – To preface this prediction, I am a St. John’s student. The Johnnies have dealt with numerous adversity issues this year. Just over the past few weeks, they have suspended their best scorer, D’Angelo Harrison, for the rest of the season and forward Sir Dominic Pointer was suspended one game for getting into a fight late in the Notre Dame game. That being said, Steve Lavin is coaching a talented group of young players that have a bright future. Plus, this matchup is winnable for the Red Storm.

St. John’s and Villanova played into overtime early this season, a game won by ‘Nova in which St. John’s got 36 points from the aforementioned Harrison. Also, these two squads played an overtime game last year at MSG. That being said, Villanova has had some great wins this year at home vs. Louisville, Syracuse, and Georgetown. Ryan Arcidiacono and Darraun Hillard combined for 50 points in the first matchup this season (a 98-86 win). The key though will be that even though St. John’s has Chris Obekpa in the middle, I like the combination of Jayvaughn Pinkson and Mouphtaou Yarou to outphysical the Red Storm inside.

Notre Dame over Rutgers – On January 19th, Notre Dame actually had to struggle to beat Rutgers at the Joyce Center 69-66. Rutgers has the talent to hang around in this one, but remember, they had Eli Carter for that game. The Irish struggled against Louisville on Saturday, but I don’t think Rutgers has enough experience at the guard position to win this one. Eric Atkins and company lead the Big East in assists and are 2nd as a team in field goal percentage. Plus, Jack Cooley is one of the more underrated centers in the league. Notre Dame is a sleeper in most experts’ eyes as they should have no problem advancing to the quarters.

Quarterfinals – Thursday

Georgetown over Providence – This matchup features a different Providence team that Georgetown saw back on January 16th when the Hoyas beat the Friars 74-65 at the Verizon Center. The Hoyas are too strong on the defensive end and their play revolves around who I think is the Big East player of the year in Otto Porter. Porter has had some historic moments this season, including scoring 33 at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. Now, the Friars will make this interesting because they will be hungry to keep their slim bubble hopes alive, but Georgetown led by Porter and guard Markel Starks (42% from 3-point) win this one in a close battle.

Pittsburgh over Syracuse – When the bracket came out, everyone wanted to see a Syracuse-Georgetown semifinal for the last time. Unfortunately, Jamie Dixon is going to spoil the party since he seems to own Jim Boeheim head-to-head. Pitt is not a flashy team, but they are very efficient. My player to watch on this team is senior Tray Woodall. Woodall is the leader of this team that has matured throughout the season and become a darkhorse in this conference tournament. Pitt knows how to navigate the 2-3 zone and frustrate Cuse’s guards which will get them the victory.

Louisville over Villanova – Louisville head coach Rick Pitino does not take kindly to losing twice to one team during the season. Villanova can pull the upset here, but Louisville is red hot right now. They have won seven straight games and have started to find a groove offensively. Peyton Siva is their floor general at point guard and as long as he doesn’t turn the ball over, Louisville can win this tourney and the big one in March. Plus, Nova’s guards will have a time with Big East defensive player of the year Gorgui Dieng blocking their shots inside. Cardinals advance to the semifinals.

Notre Dame over Marquette – This one might give you a head scratcher considering Marquette beat the Irish ten days ago, but Marquette did not impress me in its last two games against Rutgers and St. John’s. Now, they had a lot of pressure on them as they tried to clinch a share of the Big East regular season title, which they did. However, I like Mike Brey in March at Madison Square Garden. Cooley is going to outplay Da’Vante Gardner inside. Plus, I like Jerian Grant and his ability to take over down the stretch, like he did in the 5OT game vs. Louisville. Irish in the upset!

Semifinals – Friday

Georgetown over Pittsburgh – On January 8th, Pittsburgh went into the Verizon Center and dominated the Hoyas by a whopping score of 73-45. Pittsburgh shot 55% from the floor in that game and held Otto Porter to just nine points. Pitt has a great history of winning these kinds of games at MSG. They have good forward play with Dante Taylor and Lamar Patterson to at least challenge the Hoyas in the frontcourt. However, Georgetown will have revenge on their minds in this one. The problem for the Hoyas could be that they don’t tend to peak until the 2nd half in a lot of games. That might hurt them in the NCAA Tournament, but I don’t think Pittsburgh will be able to pull away, which means Porter hits a buzzer beater to send the Hoyas to the final!

Louisville over Notre Dame – This is a matchup that usually sees overtimes galore. Louisville and Notre Dame are two teams that won’t be in the Big East next year, so they would go all out in this matchup. Both of these teams can play ugly and they can also score the basketball, as we saw in their 103-101 5 overtime thriller in South Bend. However, Louisville dominated their matchup on Saturday at the YUM Center winning by 16 points. The Irish only made 5 of 19 3 pointers in the loss and against Louisville, they will need to hit a better percentage of shots from the perimeter. Again, this will be a close game, but this is a redemption game for Russ Smith after his overtime shot issues in South Bend. Louisville advances to its 2nd straight final, but will they repeat?


Georgetown over Louisville – Georgetown is the #1 seed in this tournament, but it seems the favorite is the defending champion Louisville Cardinal. You have to like the coaching matchup in this one between John Thompson III and Rick Pitino. These teams will keep the final close with good defense, but the Hoyas play great half-court defense, which will force Peyton Siva into making turnovers in bunches. Two years ago, it was Kardiac Kemba. This year, it is the Ottoman Empire taking over New York City as Georgetown cuts down the nets and keeps the title with the original Big East!

March 5, 2013- Shine Bright Like A Diamond!

It’s Tuesday!  Time for another episode of Gloves OFF! with your Host Matthew Barnaby!

On Today’s show, Let’s spend some money! Or maybe we can save some money… Buyers and Sellers! Which teams might be making moves at the trade deadline.

Suspensions!  Matthew’s made some generous contributions to the Player’s Emergency Fund over his career.  Find out which players made theirs this past week.

The future shines bright like a diamond….. Matthew’s picks of Best Players 25 years old and under.

The Chicago Blackhawks…. 19-0-3…. Enough said?

Your Twitter questions… Always!

@MattBarnaby3636     #AskMatt     #GlovesOFF

News and Notes from around the NHL, Power Rankings and to wrap up the show Game ON!

Are you ready?  Matthew’s ready to take the Gloves OFF!

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