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Sport Change takes a pause from the Moniker Rankings to weigh in on three news stories that have glimmered on the margins of sports news over the last week.

Not quite….

1.) The New York Islanders announced that they will be moving to Brooklyn in 2015.  They’ll be sharing the Barclays Center with the Nets.  Just like the Nets, they must be in for a rebrand, right?  Answer: a flat no.  They are remaining the New York Islanders.  Sport Change was excited to hear about a sensible move and then very disappointed to hear that no new brand was in order.  So…if they were to rebrand, what would be a good name?  What about Brooklyn Knights?  That has a nice ring to it and a minimalist color scheme similar to the Nets would be effective.  I read some comments on the story once it broke, and my favorite suggestion was the Brooklyn Coney Islanders.  Anyway, great way to blow an opportunity, Islanders.  Maybe they’ll change their mind by 2015.

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Bob Kraft reveals that he is, in fact, a jackass.

2.) Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, spoke at a press conference leading up to the Pats/Rams game in London.  He was joined on the stage by Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and other New England stars.  He took to the opportunity to push Roger Goodell’s agenda of placing an NFL team in London, saying the time is right.  You suck, Kraft.  I’m boycotting Kraft paper.  Apparently Kraft cares not for the integrity of the NFL and completely ignores common sense in the pursuit of hidden dollars.  The structure of teams and divisions in the NFL is by far the best among pro leagues, aside from the one glaring, obvious need: a team (or two) in LA.  A team in London is simply ridiculous.  Kraft went on to imply that the Jaguars were headed to Los Angeles.  So is that Shad Khan’s plan all along?  All his talk about the beauty of Jacksonville was smoke and mirrors.  Are the Texans, Titans, and Colts going to be happy to fly to London every year?  Ridiculous.  London already has Jaguars: they have four wheels.  It’s the National Football League, Bob, not the International Football League. What’s next?  A team in Barcelona?  Berlin?  Tokyo?  I’ve got it!  Let’s call it the World League!

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The new Astros logo, freshly leaked.

3.) In lighter news, the new Houston Astros logo was leaked a week early.  It’s a minimal, retro design that hearkens back to the rainbow guts era.  Good for the Astros for pursuing something of a reinvention with the move to the AL.  They really should’ve gone ahead and changed their team name as they originally intended.  But more on that in the next Sport Change post….

….MLB moniker rankings!  Keep half an eye out.

SPORT CHANGE

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Here is the first installment of Sport Change’s Moniker Rankings.  It’s a concept similar to “power rankings” and is at least somewhat inspired by Paul Lukas’s recent uniform rankings of each team in the Big 4.  We’ll go through various pro and semipro leagues and rank their nicknames…mascots…monikers…whatever you want to call it.  Let’s start with the NFL.

Monikers in the NFL: mostly good, some bad, and one ugly.

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For the Sport Change explanation of what makes a good or bad moniker, click here.  For the purposes of ranking NFL monikers, here are those criteria:

Factors that make a good moniker: history, generality, regional relevance, alliteration, and intimidation.

Factors that make a bad moniker: overspecification, overdependence on alliteration, blandness, disrespect, and inappropriate cleverness.

The NFL is lucky to have several great monikers, and very few terrible monikers–with one notable exception   Without further ado, let’s get right into it:

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Some nicknames loom larger than others.

1.  Giants.  This moniker is just firing on all cylinders.  It conjures historical images of Y.A. Tittle and a younger NFL, yet also manages to be intimidating and relevant.

2.  Bears.  History, generality, and universal intimidation.  If they were the Bicago Bears, this would be a perfect moniker.

3.  Lions.  Fierce and ferocious.  The sort of nickname that embodies the spirit of a blitzing linebacker.

4.  Rams.  If they move back to LA, I might even bump it up a bit.  A terrific, masculine nickname that dovetails nicely with the image of of linemen going head to head.

A moniker that works on many levels.

5.  Titans.  This is the only newer nickname to crack our top ten, but what it lacks in history is made up for by alliteration and epic connotation.

6.  Eagles.  The gold standard in the bird world as far as ferocity and respect are concerned.  A long history only sweetens the pot.

7.  Cowboys.  The first nickname on our list that is both regionally relevant and named after real people.  Respectable for what it is.

8.  Packers.  An occupation moniker that brings to mind the ancient Curly Lambeau and his meat-packing brethren.  The hard “ck” in the word has a nice intimidating sound that gives it the edge over the other blue-collar moniker.

In 1919, Curly Lambeau managed to convince his meat-packing employer to put up $250 for uniforms and equipment. The rest is history.

9.  Steelers.  Another sweat and grindstone nickname that truly reflects the Steel City.  It’s also close enough to “stealers” that the moniker takes on a tough, outlaw feel.

10.  Vikings.  Regionally relevant and referential to fierce historic figures.

11.  Panthers.  After tigers and lions, panthers have to be the most universally intimidating wild cat.  No wonder there’s also an NHL team with the same name.

12.  Dolphins.  Not exactly intimidating, but classic nonetheless.  It’s the perfect name for it’s city, and has built enough history to make it seem like less of minor-league and more of a professional moniker.

The name may not strike terror in the hearts of opponents, but you’ve got to love the Dolphins for what they are: a perfect representation of Florida football.

13.  Raiders.  Kind of a bizarre nickname, as it’s more of a reference to an action than a specific group of people.  Of course, the moniker has an historical intimidation factor unmatched in football and maybe all of pro sports.

14.  Chiefs.  A Native American nickname that commands respect.  Even when the team is struggling, the Chiefs always seem like a contender.

15.  Browns.  I’m a big fan of “color” nicknames, especially those steeped in history.  The Browns have certainly held true over the years, on-field performance notwithstanding.

It’s hard to find fault with color nicknames, and the Browns and Cleveland are inextricably linked.

16.  Patriots.  Regionally relevant and universal, if lacking teeth.  The diminutive ‘Pats’ is a bit of a stretch, and shouldn’t it be ‘Pates’?

17.  Jets.  As we approach the lower half of the list, it’s a good time to bring up the Jets.  It’s a recognizable name that’s been around for a while, but it’s still a little odd to name a football team after a type of aircraft.  A tad flighty, you might say.

18.  Broncos.  Goofy, but still pretty tough as far as horse nicknames go.  This is another moniker that benefits from the hard ‘c’ sound right in the center of the word.

There’s something a little goofy about the Broncos.

19.  Falcons.  A bit too specific, but this moniker benefits from the word itself sounding intimidating.

20.  Buccaneers.  Not nearly as good as Pirates, but still manages to be tough yet fun.  Bucs is a nice shorthand version.

21.  Chargers.  I’m not sure how to feel about this nickname.  It means nothing, really, but hard to call a moniker bland when it can be related to both rushing forward and electricity.

22.  Bills.  Ah, the Bills.  As recently stated, the Bills have a ridiculous nickname.  They are able to skate by due to history, alliteration, and the fortune of having Buffalo be the city’s name.  Again, if they were the Boise Bills, what would the mascot look like?

They should’ve stuck with their old name: the Buffalo Bisons. Wait…is Bisons a word?

23.  Saints.  It’s not that I don’t like the nickname–the connection with “the Saints Go Marching In” is fun and regionally relevant.  However, it’s not exactly intimidating and is more of a minor league nickname.

24.  Texans.  Who else was disappointed when this name was announced?  Udderly (get it?) boring, and a ripoff of the old Dallas Texans.

25.  Colts.  If still in Baltimore, this name would be several spots higher due to history.  At face value, it’s a minor-league diminutive type of nickname.

26.  49ers.  Despite the history, this moniker is very specific and kind of pointless.  Prospectors would’ve been more respectable.

27.  Ravens.  I like the Poe connotation and the dark colors of the bird make the team intimidating.  That said, it’s reaching a little deep into an already saturated pool of birds.

If the Ravens weren’t competitive, the moniker would be nevermore intimidating.

28.  Cardinals.  If they were still in St. Louis, they would get a bump due to history.  I don’t think there are many cardinals in the Southwest, and don’t see a point to Arizona retaining this moniker.

29.  Seahawks.  The alliteration is nice, but “seahawk” is very specific and really sounds like a minor league name.  Seattle Hawks would’ve been much better.

30.  Jaguars.  More of an obscure wild cat, and one that seemingly has multiple pronunciations.  This is a moniker that’s trying to ride alliteration all the way, with mixed results.

31.  Bengals.  Ugh.  Just ugh.  Too close to “bungles” and way too specific.  Cincinnati Cats would’ve been a much better choice, and in 1968, they could’ve gotten away with it.  Now there are too many cats.

32.  Redskins.  Not much to say here that hasn’t already been said.  It’s disrespectful and nasty.  A team called the Whiteskins or Blackskins would never fly.  This name needs to change, history be damned.  If the change is to Washington Warriors, it would shoot into the Sport Change top ten.

Let’s change the name to the Washington Warriors and bring back this awesome helmet logo while we’re at it.

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So…what do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments.  What would your rankings be?  Let’s argue.

Stay alert for more upcoming moniker rankings.  We’ll tackle major pro sports leagues, minor and developmental leagues, and even the collegiate ranks.  This is a long-term exploration and study.  Stay posted.

For MLB moniker rankings, click here

For NBA moniker rankings, click here

For NHL moniker rankings, click here

SPORT CHANGE

As previously reported and explored by Sport Change, the Northwest League’s Yakima Bears have relocated to Hillsboro, Oregon.  The team just announced their new moniker and unveiled a new logo.  The Hillsboro Hops.  Brilliant!

Meet the next terrific MiLB brand.

Denizens of Hillsboro, denizens of Portand, denizens of Oregon, and denizens of the whole damn U S of A should be pleased that a good brand was achieved.  Let’s dissect it:

MONIKER: Spectacular.  If you’re still scratching your head, this is a reference to hops (humulus lupulus) the medicinal herb used that gives beer it’s distinct floral bitterness.  This is a great name for several reasons:

1.) Food/drink related MiLB brands are terrific.  The Hops share the table with the Modesto Nuts, Montgomery Biscuits, Cedar Rapids Kernels, and Jamestown Jammers.

2.) It’s alliterative!

3.) It’s regionally relevant.  Nearly all the hops grown in America come from the Pacific Northwest.  Additionally, the Portland area is renowned for microbreweries.

4.) Opens up MiLB to a whole new demographic: hipsters!  If they’ll shell out for designer skinny jeans and fancy hoops for their earlobes, watch them fork over for Hops hats.

5.) It’s fun and goofy.  Nothing like getting small children excited about beer.  Alright, so there’s maybe one drawback.

LOGO: Sublime.  That little hop cone is instantly lovable.  He reminds me of the Lansing Lugnut and the Modesto walnut.  I love how the ears are little leaves.  It would be great if their cap logo is just the hop cone guy and nothing else.

COLORS: Perfect.  I used to live in the PNW, and always thought that the theme colors of the area are bright green (mossy forests), blue (ocean and sounds), and grey (sky).  Without even knowing where Hillsboro is, you could probably guess that the Hops play in the Pacific Northwest.

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Nuts about the Hops

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Good for Hillsboro!  I was very concerned a few months ago that they would hold a name-the-team contest and choose a crappy nickname.  In that post, I analyzed all the names that were suggested by the Hillsboro online newspaper.  Hops wasn’t listed, but if it were I would’ve likely ranked it second.  I still like Hedgehogs better, but am very pleasantly surprised by the Hops.

I am so stoked that Minor League baseball added such a terrific new brand.  The Hops are easily in the top fifty best brands in all the minors, and may be even in the top 20.  Hats off!  When the Moniker Monitor casts it’s gaze toward ranking all monikers in MiLB, it will be fun to see where the Hops land.  Until then, I’ll probably be ignoring Minor League Baseball.  Until Scranton/Wilkes-Barre decides on a name, that is….

For more MiLB posts, click here.

SPORT CHANGE

Sport Change has just launched the Moniker Monitor.  This a new venue for ranking sports nicknames and keeping abreast of changes or change proposals in pro and semipro leagues.

Before we get into the rankings, here are the Sport Change established criteria for what makes a moniker good or bad in both pro and semipro sports:

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Alliteration, intimidation, generality….hats off to the Pittsburgh Pirates for having a great monik-arrr.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD MONIKER IN PRO SPORTS?

History.  If an expansion team were to be named the “Red Sox” I would deride the name profusely.  At face value, “Red Sox” is a terrible nickname for a pro team.  It’s a vague reference to an inanimate article of clothing, and it’s gimmickly pluralized using a campy X.  That being said, the Boston Red Sox (and the Chicago White Sox, for that matter) are so firmly entrenched in the annals of baseball that the nickname is a good one.

Generality.  Pro sports are the top of the pack, and monikers should strive to be the quintessential word to represent the mascot.  For instance, “Pirates” is a more general and respectable name than “Buccaneers” which in turn is more respectable than “Marauders.”  They all mean the same general thing, but the most universal word should be used for the pro teams.  The players deserve it.

Regional Relevance.  Having a good nickname that also reflects the geographic location of the team is often a plus.  In pro sports, this can work for or against the moniker.  The Dallas Cowboys, for instance, have an ideal name for their region.  Conversely, the San Francisco Forty-Niners have a regionally relevant name that’s more anecdotal and bizarre than respectable.

Alliteration.  Like regional relevance, alliteration should not determine the course of a moniker, but it is often a bonus.  Examples of this working well are Pittsburgh Pirates and Tennessee Titans. On the other hand, alliteration can enable monikers that are questionable in pro sports such as Jaguars, Seahawks, and Wizards.

Teeth.  Within reason, it is often beneficial for a moniker to have a certain level of intimidation.  At the very least, the moniker should incur a healthy respect for the opponent.  A nickname like the Bears will always command a certain reverence, simply due to the fact that bears are large and intimidating.  It often helps if the moniker is a reference to a masculine archetype, as well.  A nickname like “Rams” works much better than “Sheep.”  That’s a good segue into the next topic of this post.

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Ugh. Where to start? It’s a questionable moniker in New Orleans, and it at least had regional relevance there. Ugh.

WHAT MAKES A BAD MONIKER IN PRO SPORTS?

Inappropriate Level of Generality or Specificity.  On a pro level, over-specification leads to goofy nicknames, and these nicknames are often less respectable than more-general nicknames.  For example, the Detroit Tigers are immediately respectable due to the fact that tigers are fearsome and awe-inspiring animals.  “Bengals” means essentially the same thing, but the level of specificity (i.e. bengal tiger) waters down the nickname and causes it to loose it’s teeth.

The Non-Plurable/Non-Singularable (NP/NS) Epidemic.  It’s too simple to say “nicknames that don’t end in S.”  For example, you could use the phrase “Frank Thomas was a White Sock,” or “the rookie White Sox are making an impact.”  Perhaps the most heinous example (and the trail blazer of the phenomenon) in pro sports is the Utah Jazz.  It’s very difficult to say “John Stockton was a Jazz….player…..Jazzer?,” or “the rookie Jazzes are making an impact.”  These monikers are commonplace in many semipro leagues, and they only make the team and league less respectable.  There are very few examples of NP/NS monikers that work well, and none of them are in the Big Four sports leagues.

Regional Irrelevance.  We’ve already mentioned the Utah Jazz, so let’s look at another example of an inappropriate nickname for a region: the Memphis Grizzlies.  On the surface, the “Grizz” get away with this nickname since grizzlies are big, fearsome animals, right?  Not so fast.  That is only acceptable when the nickname is quintessentially general, such as “bears.”  When the moniker is a general archetype, it doesn’t matter that there are no lions native to the Detroit area, for instance.  Grizzlies are a region-specific nickname that worked very well for Vancouver.  The Mississippi delta is a long way from the Pacific Northwest, and Memphis should’ve chosen a better nickname when the Grizzlies were moved.

Overdependence on Alliteration.  Sometimes a moniker is chosen because it is alliterative.  As noted above: alliteration is a bonus, not the driving force of a nickname.  Some of the most inappropriate monikers in pro sports are apparently results of this thought process.  Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Wizards seem to fit this bill, and both monikers would be better suited for semipro leagues.

Blandness.  Perhaps in response to the proliferation of zany monikers unveiled in the nineties, those unveiled in the aughts erred toward bland, boring nicknames and team brands.  The conservative approach is certainly less risky than the alternative, but Texans and Nationals are just…boring.

Disrespect.  A moniker should never be disrespectful to a group of people.  This is common sense. It’s not to say that any nickname can’t be named after a group of people, but if it’s offensive it’s a throwaway.

Inappropriate Cleverness.  Buffalo Bills….get it?  Get it?!  I’m sure that was a good joke back in 1960 when it won a name-the-team competition.  The Bills may claim that it was a reference to a male buffalo or “billy,” but I doubt it.  They would be the Buffalo Bulls if that were the case, just like Buffalo University.  The Bills are lucky to be in Buffalo, where they can draw from the city’s name to give them a mascot.  If they were say, the Boise Bills, it would be a real headscratcher.  They obviously chose the name due it’s connotation with Buffalo Bill Cody.  Very clever, but inappropriate for pro sports.  That said, the Bills have been around long enough that I wouldn’t suggest changing their name.  Although, it’s too bad that Buffalo Bisons is already taken.  That’s another good segue…

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It’s fun, it’s goofy, it’s alliterative…it’s even rust-belt relevant. Perfect for the Minors!

WHAT MAKES A GOOD MONIKER IN SEMI-PRO OR MINOR LEAGUE SPORTS?

Fun and Goofy.  Minor leagues are all about fun.  That’s what sells tickets and keeps fans interested.  While researching minor league and independent league baseball teams for previous posts, I noticed that teams with fun and goofy brands seemed to draw more fans simply because they were fun and goofy.  The Montgomery Biscuits, for example, put a smile on just about everyone’s face.  It works.

Regionally Relevant.  A great part about minor leagues is that they can draw attention to oft-overlooked cities and regions.  It’s like a geography lesson, and having a regionally relevant moniker show a facet of a specific area.  The Lowell Spinners, for example, take their name from the history of the textile industry in Lowell, Mass.  It’s a name that you couldn’t get away with at a pro level, but works well in the minors.  The Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s Developmental League show a side of Reno that is respectable.

Alliterative.  In the minors, alliteration is a big bonus.  Greensboro Grasshoppers, Lansing Lugnuts, Manchester Monarchs…these names work.  There is a lot more leeway for having alliteration drive the moniker than in the pros.

Alternative.  When talking affiliation with pro club parents, it’s sometime nice to have the affiliate’s moniker be a synonym for the parent club’s name.  Examples are: Manchester Monarchs (LA Kings), Bradenton Marauders (Pittsburgh Pirates), and Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals.)

Diminutive.  If a minor league team is a direct affiliate of a pro team that has an appropriate diminutive form, it should be explored.  There are few examples of this currently, but I can think of some name changes that would be nice: Connecticut Tiger Cubs (baby Tigers), the Tuscon Hijos (sons of Padres), Princes for Kings, or if the Chicago Bulls get their own D-League franchise: the Calves.  OK, that might be more cute than it’s worth.  Which brings me to….

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Patrick Ewing recently turned down a job opportunity for the NBA’s Development League. I wonder if he was repulsed by the boring monikers he found at that level.

WHAT MAKES A BAD MONIKER IN SEMI-PRO OR MINOR LEAGUE SPORTS?

Overseriousness.  There’s no need to intimidate opponents to sell tickets in minor leagues.  Lighten up, Kannapolis Intimidators.  Teeth aren’t necessary; these are baby teeth.  In fact, I suggest that a minor league same should be so goofy that players are going to work harder to ascend through the ranks to avoid the embarrassment that comes from being a member of the Modesto Nuts, for example.

Overgeneral.  The minors should be specific.  Boise Hawks?  That should be a pro team name, just like Seahawks should be a minor league name.  I bet I would be very bored at a Boise Hawks game.  Another rookie-ball Pioneer League team, the Idaho Falls Chukars, are also named after a bird.  What’s more fun: a Hawk or a Chukar?

Two or More Words Just Jammed Together.  What is a BayBear, precisely?  A BayHawk?  A Sound Tiger?  A Valley Cat?  Ugh.  Just ugh.

Same as the Parent.  It just feels like a cop-out for an affiliate to have the same moniker as the parent club.  There are three instances where this is OK: 1. If it’s temporary until the team comes up with a better name.  2. If every affiliate of the parent club has the same name, but have somewhat creative brands.  The Atlanta Braves have nearly accomplished this.  3. If every team in the semi-pro league (such as in the Appalachian League) has a chip-off-the-old-block name.  Random copycat names are really cop-out cat names.  I’m looking at you, Connecticut Tigers.  Or should I say Connecticut Tiger Cubs!  Boo-yah.

If Sport Change ruled the world, they would be called the Tiger Cubs. An adorable baby tiger kitten would peer out from behind the T.

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Boo-yah.

This post will be basis for some upcoming fun: ranking monikers in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MiLB, and other leagues that nobody really cares about.  Moniker madness, baby.  Boo-yah.

SPORT CHANGE

This is an afterthought to Sport Change’s recent Territorial Quarterbacks posts.  The only change here is that we’re looking at the colleges attended by NFL quarterbacks and matching them up with NFL teams that play in the same area as the colleges are located.

Caleb Hanie: one of only a few quarterbacks who play for an NFL team right near their alma mater.

I used similar criteria to the previous posts to make the selections, so click here to read about the background for this project.  If you have any questions or complaints, leave them in the comments and you’ll probably get a response.  For now, let’s get right into it:

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-Arizona Cardinals.  Starting Quarterback: Nick Foles (Arizona)   Backup: Brock Osweiler (Arizona State)  The Cards are stuck with two rookie quarterbacks in a boom or bust scenario.  Which is the starter?  I chose Foles due to some preseason flourishes with the Eagles this year.

-Atlanta Falcons.  Starting Quarterback: Matthew Stafford (Georgia)  Backups: Cam Newton (Auburn) and Jason Campbell (Auburn)  The SEC belt had ample representation, and having Cam Newton on the bench should speak for that.  Four other quarterbacks would’ve been Falcons, but did not make the cut.

From wearing Georgia on his dome to playing in the Georgia Dome

-Baltimore Ravens.  Starting Quarterback: Shaun Hill (Maryland)  Backup: Pat Devlin (Delaware)  I suppose I could’ve made the choice to keep Joe Flacco on the Ravens, but what fun is that?  Instead let’s see how they fare with career backup and former Terrapin Shaun Hill.  We’ll throw in Pat Devlin, too.

-Buffalo Bills.  Starting Quarterback: Donovan McNabb (Syracuse)  Just like in our previous posts, upstate New York is a barren wasteland for quarterbacks.  A quarterback is plucked off the couch and suited up in the blue and red.  McNabb isn’t that far removed from the NFL, right?

Buffalo has to dig deep to come up with a quarterback.

-Carolina Panthers.  Starting Quarterback: Philip Rivers (NC State)  Backups: Michael Vick (Virginia Tech) and Tyler Thigpen (Coastal Carolina)  The Carolinas are a hotbed for NFL quarterbacks, with Duke, UNC, and NC State remaining competitive year-to-year.  I gave Thigpen the nod over TJ Yates, so TJ joins with three others shipped to the waiver wire.

-Chicago Bears.  Starting Quarterback: Brady Quinn (Notre Dame)  Backups: Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame) and Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois)  The Bears are stuck with a back of scrubs from Notre Dame and neighboring colleges.

Brady Quinn: grin and Bear it.

-Cincinnati Bengals.  Starting Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger (Miami of Ohio)  Just like in our last Territorial Quarterbacks project, the pride (shame?) of Lima, Ohio bungles it up.  

-Cleveland Browns.  Starting Quarterback: Bruce Gradkowski (Toledo)  Backup: Terrelle Pryor (OSU)  Yikes.  Even in a fantasy the Browns can’t get a decent quarterback.

-Dallas Cowboys.  Starting Quarterback: Robert Griffin III (Baylor)  Backups: Andy Dalton (Texas Christian) and Sam Bradford (Oklahoma)  The Cowboys weren’t quite as deep as the last project, but they still send three to waivers and retain three current starters.  I think RGIII will be good enough for the starting role on this team.

-Denver Broncos.  Starting Quarterback: Alex Smith (Utah)  Backup: Caleb Hanie (Colorado State)  Hanie is one of the few who currently play for a team near their alma mater.

Tom Brady dons the Honolulu blue

-Detroit Lions.  Starting Quarterback: Tom Brady (Michigan)  Backups: Chad Henne (Michigan)  and Kirk Cousins (MSU)  Michigan schools produce a plethora of quarterbacks, and the Lions send two to waivers.

-Green Bay Packers.  Starting Quarterback: Russell Wilson (Wisconsin)  Backup: Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin)  After the Fail Mary (or the Inaccurate Reception or GoldenGate) you can bet that Packers fans won’t be thrilled to see ex-Badger Wilson at the helm.

Russell Wilson in Green and Gold? Just don’t mention the Fail Mary.

-Houston Texans.  Starting Quarterback: Kevin Kolb (Houston)  Backups: Colt McCoy (Texas) and Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M)  The Texans get saddled with three mediocre signal-callers.  Yee-haw.

-Indianapolis Colts.  Starting Quarterback: Drew Brees (Purdue)  Backups: Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois) and Kyle Orton (Purdue)  The Boilermakers represent significantly for the Colts, and they score pretty good with Brees.  I guess they get that Romo guy, too.

A Boilermaker takes his talents to Indy

-Jacksonville Jaguars.  Starting Quarterback: Tim Tebow (Florida)  Backup: Rex Grossman (Florida) Mediocre Gators stock up the tank in Jacksonville.  I’ll give Tebow the starting nod due to his playoff victories.  And the fact that it would sell enough tickets to avoid blackouts.

-Kansas City Chiefs.  Starting Quarterback: Josh Freeman (Kansas State)  Backups: Ryan Mallett (Arkansas) and Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State)  KC native Josh Freeman takes the starting role for the Chiefs.  I’d give Mallett more upside than Weeden at this point.  Weeden looks like a career backup, and he’s turning 29 this month.

KC’s own Josh Freeman suits up for the Chiefs.

Miami Dolphins.  Starting Quarterback: Rusty Smith (Florida Atlantic)  Yep.  Rusty Smith.  I’ve mentioned before how Florida produces basically no quarterbacks, and that mostly holds true for colleges as well.  Rusty Smith is a clipboard holder on the Titans who happened to go to college in Boca Raton.   He could theoretically take Matt Hasselbeck’s  2nd string job.  Someday.

-Minnesota Vikings.  Starting Quarterback: Ricky Stanzi (Iowa)  Iowa City is actually closer to St. Louis and Chicago, but the Vikings need somebody and the Golden Gophers aren’t going to be producing anybody.  This is similar to the last project wherein Des Moines, Iowa native Kyle Orton went to the Vikings.

Welcome to New England, Matty Ice.

-New England Patriots.  Starting Quarterback: Matt Ryan (Boston College)  Backups: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Harvard) and Matt Hasselbeck (Boston College)  The Patriots get both of the Boston College Matts and Ivy-leaguer Fitzpatrick.  Not bad.

-New Orieans Saints.  Starting Quarterback: Matt Flynn (LSU)  Backups: Luke McCown (Louisiana Tech) and Tarvaris Jackson (Alabama State)  The one-time national champion takes his talents back to the bayou.  McCown and Jackson round out a bench that sends one player to the waiver wire.

Matt Flynn goes back to the bayou.

-New York Giants.  Starting Quarterback: John Skelton (Fordham)  The greater New York area is a barren wasteland of quarterbacks.  The Giants are lucky to land former Forham Ram John Skelton.

-New York Jets.  Starting Quarterback: Dan Orlovsky (UCONN)  We’ll send Orlovsky to the Jets by default.

New York cannot produce a decent quarterback.

-Oakland Raiders.  Starting Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (Cal)  Backups: Colin Kaepernick (Nevada)  David Carr (Fresno State)  The Raiders luck out once again with Rodgers.  Berkeley is slightly closer to Oakland than Frisco, so Aaron dons silver and black again.  Kaepernick and Carr fill out a bench and one player is sent to waivers.

-Philadelphia Eagles.  Starting Quarterback: Joe Flacco (Delaware)  From Blue Hen to green Eagle. Mr. Joe Flacco.

Byron Leftwich stays where he is, but gets the starting nod.

-Pittsburgh Steelers.  Starting Quarterback: Byron Leftwich (Marshall)  Leftwich is already a clipboard-holder for the Steelers, so let’s just keep him in Pittsburgh.  There is nobody else for them.

-San Diego Chargers.  Starting Quarterback: Carson Palmer (USC)  Backups: Matt Cassel (USC) and Mark Sanchez (USC).  If there were an LA team, this would make more sense.  Two additional players are sent to waivers.

-San Francisco 49ers.  Starting Quarterback: Andrew Luck (Stanford)  Backup: Trent Edwards (Stanford)  Oakland may have Rodgers, but the Niners have all the Luck.

The Niners Luck out, and the Seahawks clean out a Locker for Jake.

-Seattle Seahawks.  Starting Quarterback: Jake Locker (Washington)  Backups: Matt Moore (Oregon State) and Derek Anderson (Oregon State)  Locker locks up the starting job, and Moore/Anderson warm the bench.  Two Kellens (Clemens and Moore) are sent packing.

-St. Louis Rams.  Starting Quarterback: Blaine Gabbert (Missouri)  Backup: Chase Daniel (Missouri)  I guess I’ll give Gabbert the starting nod due his starting experience–no matter how crappy the results have been.

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Starting Quarterback: Christian Ponder (Florida State)  Tallahassee is actually closer to Jacksonville, but the Bucs need someone in passer-parched Florida.

Peyton finds himself back in the Volunteer State

-Tennessee Titans.  Starting Quarterback: Peyton Manning (Tennessee)  Backups: Eli Manning (Ole Miss) and Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt)  Hilariously, the Manning boys are back on the same team, despite having played in schools fairly far apart.  Cutler rounds out the best bench in the game.

-Washington Redskins. Starting Quarterback: Matt Schaub (Virginia)  A Cavalier in the Capital.

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Lands of Feast

Though not as extreme as the previous (by origin) project, Texas and Southern California were still powerhouses.  The SEC represented significantly, and both Atlanta and Carolina were overstocked. Michigan was surprisingly strong in the Midwest, and Indiana did well also.  Seattle had a surprising amount as well.

Lands of Famine

Florida and New York were very weak, and McNabb had to come out of retirement so that the Bills would have someone.  As expected, there were big patches West of the Mississippi.

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Waiver Wire

Oakland Raiders sent McLeod Bethel-Thompson (Sacramento State)

San Diego Chargers sent Matt Leinart (USC) and Ryan Lindley (San Diego State)

Dallas Cowboys sent Graham Harrell (Texas Tech)

Detroit Lions send Charlie Batch (Eastern Michigan) and Drew Stanton (Michigan State)

Carolina Panthers send TJ Yates (UNC), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Thaddeus Lewis (Duke), and Dominique Davis (East Carolina)

Atlanta Falcons send Joe Webb (UAB), Charlie Whitehurst (Clemson), and Greg McElroy (Alabama)

New Orleans Saints send Austin Davis (Southern Miss)

Seattle Seahawks send Kellen Clemens (Oregon) and Kellen Moore (Boise State)

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Alright.  Wrapped that up.  If you’re a regular follower, thank you for tolerating the big gap with no posts.  The Sport Change site is “realigning” soon, and there are several more projects in the works.  Stay posted.  Thank you for reading.  Please leave comments.

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