Monday Morning Quarterback: with @YeahFlanny

NCAA Football: Florida State at Pittsburgh

Much like what my colleague Joshua does with the NFL on Tuesday’s, I will be bringing you a complete overview of the news and notes in college football from the previous weekend. This piece will run every Monday from now until a National Champion is crowned in January. For those of you that know me, and/or follow me on twitter, it’s no secret that I prefer college football to the NFL. While the product on NFL field’s is superior to that of college football, the campus environment, the pageantry, (the co-eds), the passion, I just can’t get enough. Whether it’s Wednesday night MAC-tion or Saturday night in prime-time, if there’s college football on a television, you can bet that’s where my unwavering attention will be. Without further ado, let’s recap week 4 of the college football season.

– Jameis Winston IS the real deal. As you may or may not know, both Professor Corria and I are die hard FSU fans, so I figured I’d address the elephant in the room. Winston could honestly put up better numbers as a redshirt freshman than Johnny Hancock did at A&M last year. Watch out for the Noles!

– Alabama isn’t quite “Alabama”. This Crimson Tide team is not the team we’ve become accustomed to over the last few years. They struggled for nearly a half against a lowly Colorado State team. It’s early, and this team will only get better, but they’re a far cry from last year’s powerhouse.

– Oregon has not missed a beat without Chip Kelly. The Ducks have come out flying so far this season, scoring points at a record pace. QB Marcus Mariotta has to be the early Heisman favorite, but I do believe the loss of Kelly will come into play later on in the season.

– How good is Stanford? After a great first half against a solid Arizona State team, they got a little lackadaisical and nearly let ASU pull the upset. While Stanford will surely compete for a PAC-12 title, I don’t know if I’m ready to include them in the (wide open) national championship race.

– Do the Buckeyes have a QB controversy? In one word, no. Kenny Guiton has stepped in a played beautifully for the banged up Braxton Miller (expected back next week) throwing a school record 6 TD passes last Saturday against FAMU, but Miller is the QB in Columbus, and the only one who can get them to Pasadena.

– Panic time in Gainesville? In one word, absolutely! Starting QB Jeff Driskel went down broken fibulla against Tennessee, and is out for the season. While he’s grossly underachieved, he gave them the best opportunity to win this season. Backup QB Tyler Murphy was mediocre stepping in for Driskel and eked out a win against a horrid Vols team. Florida went from an SEC title contender, to a potential 4 loss team.

– Miami hung 70 on the scoreboard against the little sister’s of the poor, excuse me, I mean Savannah State, a school record for the Canes. Don’t get to far ahead of yourselves Miami fans, they aren’t THAT good. Miami has yet to face a good offense that can feast of the lack of size they have on the defensive side, and QB Stephan Morris hasn’t proved he can be consistent enough to make the Canes a threat in the ACC. Don’t let the #15 ranking fool you.

– Teddy Bridgewater continued his hot start with a dominating win at home against FIU. It was so bad that both teams agreed to a running clock in the 4th quarter. While Louisville’s schedule is set up for them to run the table, the Cards virtually have no shot at the National Championship as their schedule just won’t cut it. Even if they go undefeated, they’d likely be jumped by a 1 loss team from any of the major conferences.

– Boy is the PAC 12 going to be fun to watch this season. Typically we get one or two teams from the PAC 12 with a legit shot to win it all. Lately it’s been Oregon and USC before that. This year we have Stanford, and Oregon at the top, with teams like UCLA, Arizona State, Washington, and Cal all looking to make some noise this season. Plus, we get Gus Johnson on the call, I’m all in on the PAC 12!

– Saturday night, Utah traveled to Provo to play BYU, in what was the 100th game between the two universities. Utah snuck away with the win, in one of Saturday’s best games. Unfortunately, these two rivals won’t face off again until 2016. It was fitting that the game would come down to the last play. Hats off to both programs.

There you have it folks, week four in college football. We have some great games on the slate next weekend including Oklahoma at Notre Dame, LSU at Georgia, Cal at Oregon, Ole Miss at Bama, and Wisconsin at Ohio State. Be sure to stay tuned to The Triangle Offense as we ramp up the football coverage, and be sure to follow myself on Twitter (@YeahFlanny)

Why We Love Football: BY @ProfessorCorria

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Ah yes, it’s that time of year again where we separate the men from the mice and the Pit’s from the poodles. Yes ladies and gentleman, football season is upon us after what seems like such an agonizing, prolonged wait. The NFL is back, and with it comes our favorite pastime as we gather every Sunday and Monday night with family, friends or sometimes complete strangers to watch our favorite gladiators go to war over a finite amount of space to truly find out who is the better man. Yes, football is the modern day gladiator sport, as we stream into to modern day coliseums to watch the controlled carnage. The finest athletic specimens of our time hurdling toward each other at the speed of light, trying to take each other’s heads off. The NFL and college football, to some extent, have become “quarterback driven”, but the essence of football is can a grown man move another grown man a few feet in order to open up holes and create time for their quarterback. The NFL likes to market the royal elegance of the regal Tom Brady, the machine like precision of Peyton Manning, and the athletic grace of Calvin Johnson or Adrian Peterson, but if you take in an episode of “Hard Knocks” you can still see that the game is won and lost in the trenches. Football is a man’s game, its physical, it’s nasty, it’s carnal, and most players have to go to a deep dark place in order to summon up the necessary rage in order to compete against some of the world’s best athletes in such a physically demanding arena.

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Football on Sunday is just as American as apple pie and has become engrained as part of our culture, with regular season game posting higher television ratings than a World Series game and NBA Finals game combined. Why has this sea change occurred? It seems like football has become an event every weekend and the Super Bowl has become almost a national holiday. Is it the carnage taking place on the field? Is it the gambling and fantasy football, which has become a cottage industry? Is it the fact that the sport is mostly played on one day, save for Monday night football and the occasional Thursday telecast? Maybe it’s a confluence of all those things, but whatever the reason, it seems as though we cannot get enough football, nothing seems to be able to placate our appetite for the sport. Football is the “Soap Opera” for the male species, we want every single snap is dissected, coaches decisions are constantly being second and triple guessed, and we tune in to sports talk radio, NFL Network and the seemingly endless amount of NFL shows on ESPN. We are all under the NFL’s spell like swooning teenagers ogling the pretty girl in our chemistry class. Our love affair with the NFL has even made college football the number 2 watched sport in America, as we watch pseudo professional kids compete every Thursday and Saturday.

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The pads clashing, the smell of freshly manicured grass, the fans tailgating in the parking lot, prognosticators prognosticating, millions of fans in front of their flat screens with a beer in their hand and their mobile device in their other hand checking their fantasy stats. Ah yes, football is here, God is so good. Hope springs eternal in 32 different cities for 32 different fan bases as they dream of their team making it to the Super Bowl, this is what dreams are made of. There are too many storylines to even delve into, but even with the NFL and former players battling it out in court and the court of public opinion over head injuries, we the public still can’t get enough of this vicious blood sport. We thirst for football, we hunger for it, we wish the season would last 12 months instead of 5, we even watch that God awful shit show the NFL calls the Pro Bowl. I can’t wait for the bone rattling hits, the spectacular plays, and yes even the soap opera’ish daily coverage on several sports networks. Everyone fighting, from players on the field, coaches on the sideline, to fans in the stands. I’m ready for some football, are you?

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2013 Fantasy Football Primer

The season is upon us! No, not the football season, that’s still a little over a week away. Unfortunately. But, we’ve officially embarked on the 2013 fantasy football season.  Being that we are just days away from the season kicking off, many of you will be conducting your drafts this weekend. It is pivotal that you have you draft as close to the end of preseason as possible, so that you are aware of any inquiries to those players you may select. Season altering or even ending injuries occur to star players every preseason and the last thing you want to do is use an early pick (or any pick for that matter) on a player that won’t contribute to his team and yours.

This will be my 8th season competing in fantasy football. My first season, 2006, just so happened to be the same year LT rushed for 1,815 yards and 28 TD’s. My first pick that year? Yup. LaDanian Tomlinson. Needless to say, I ran away with that league, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’m now in three leagues, and simply can’t get enough fantasy football. If i wasn’t a recent college grad, with loans to pay back, I’d be in ten leagues (we play for money around here). I’m no Mathew Berry, but I do consider myself a seasoned vet these days, and I’m always eager to pass along my fantasy do’s and don’ts. Here are ten pointers you’ll need if you want to be hoisting that fantasy football trophy this season.

– Don’t be a prisoner of the rankings. The rankings are there as a reference, so you can assign value to guys, not so you can draft exactly as the list is set up. If that’s the case, don’t even show up to the draft, and let auto-pick do it’s thing.

– After referencing those “experts” rankings, create your own. You want to go into your draft with a plan on how you want to set up your team. Assign value to each guy you want on your squad and have multiple back up plans if that guy is gone when you wanted to select him. You don’t want to be caught off guard when “your guy” is taken one pick before you, that’ll likely end in a major reach. Seen it happen last Sunday. Tragic.

– Know your league’s settings. While your rushing and receiving TD’s may get you 6 points, passing scores may only net you 4. This will put a premium on running backs and receivers, and make QB’s a little less valuable, and mat alter your draft strategy.

– Know which position groups are deep, and which ones aren’t. RB’s are at a premium this year, and that should likely be where you go in round one. The same can be said for quarterbacks. There is a big drop off at QB after those “elite” guys are gone. The wide receiver group on the other hand is very deep. Don’t you dare take a wideout before a running back or QB, unless their name is Megatron or AJ.

– Don’t trade up, unless it’s to #1. AP is far and away the #1 guy this year, and whoever goes at #2 isn’t in Adrian’s league. If your in say, a 12 team league, drafting at #8-#12 is a great position to be in. You can lock up two potential fantasy stars, while those guys drafting in the top 5, will be sweating it out until their turn comes back around.

– Don’t get attached to the guy who carried you last season, even in a keeper league. Just because they put up monster stats last season, it doesn’t mean that’ll be the case this season. I broke this rule myself this draft season. I got Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning in rounds 3 and 4 respectively last year, as no one wanted to touch them after the injury. I wasn’t able to grab AP, but I did take Manning in multiple leagues this season. I wouldn’t typically suggest doing that, but I’m willing to bet on Peyton.

– Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks while drafting, but have back up plans. CJ Spiller is a hot name amongst fantasy drafters this year. He seems to finally be healthy, and when he’s healthy, he’s nearly unstoppable. But, he’s not always healthy and that’s usually not what you want to hear when drafting a guy in rounds 1 or 2. Spiller, like many guys each year is in the “boom or bust” category, and because of this you need to make sure you have multiple serviceable backups on your roster in case he turns out to be a bust, so draft accordingly.

– If your going to reach, don’t reach on a skill player. In the middle rounds, people tend to reach on QB’s or backs, and I wouldn’t recommend that. A defense on the other hand is a bit more understandable. There are only a couple defenses that create turnovers regularly and/or score special teams TD’s. Reaching on a D that could produce a big chunk of points each week, would likely be a strategy that pays off down the road.

– Become good friends with the waiver wire. Don’t feel entitled to stick with the team you drafted. Some of those guys should not finish the season on your roster. Guys will disappoint and free agents will emerge. Do not be afraid to drop a guy you drafted for a free agent who’s showing some promise, or someone you believe could be a factor late in the season. This is how championships are won, on the waiver wire.

– Remember that your fantasy playoffs will likely be played in the last few weeks of the NFL regular season. You need to structure your roster accordingly. Having Tom Brady on your team during weeks 14-17, when his team has already clinched the division may not be as beneficial as having say a Tony Romo or Phillip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger, who’s team may be fighting for a playoff spot. Those guys won’t be holding anything back, and could put up huge points. The players who get you to the mountain, may not always be the guys who get you to the mountain top.

There you have it folks. Flanny’s top ten fantasy football tips. Now, you can trust in these pointers, have a stellar draft, wreak havoc all season, and win a fantasy football title (and hopefully some $$$). Or, you could call me a hack, totally disregard everything above, draft Arian Foster at #2 overall (where the “experts” have him), pick a kicker before the last two rounds (I’m all for a kicker in round 15!), not pick up one free agent all season, and finish dead last…..Your move.

Good luck folks!

The Business, Man.

Shawn Carter is not only the greatest rapper alive (not debatable) but in recent years, the Brooklyn born rapper has immensely raised the bar for musicians and artists who look to venture outside of music in order to gain recognition and ultimately, increase the cash flow. We’ve seen The Jigga Man, make numerous power moves within the rap game, CEO of Def Jam Recordings, co founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, founder of Roc Nation, and so on. He’s ventured outside of music and struck gold with his Rocawear clothing line (that sold for $204 million dollars, in 2007), he’s opened multiple 40/40 Club’s, his lavish chain of sports bar’s, and he was also a pivotal part of the Nets move to Brooklyn this past season, as a minority owner.

“Would’ve brought the Nets to Brooklyn for free, except I made millions off of you fucking dweebs. I still own the building, I’m still keeping my seats…” This line appeared in a recent track released by Jay entitled, “Open Letter” and stirred up some discussion amongst rap fans, and basketball fans alike. Had Jay sold his shares of the Nets? The organization he almost single-handedly re-branded, and brought to his hometown of Brooklyn. If so, why would he do such a thing? The Nets seemed to be his first born (sorry Blue Ivy). Days later it would go public that Jay-Z had indeed sold his 1/15 of a single percent share of the Nets, for $350,000 and shifted his focus to another aspect of sports, representation.

On April 2, Jay-z launched Roc Nation Sports, and in true Hov fashion, he has teamed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the industries most prominent sports and entertainment agencies. His first client? None other than Major League Baseball’s best second baseman, and New York Yankees slugger, Robinson Cano. Cano, not only signed with the agency headed by a rapper, but also left the top agent in the game of baseball, Scott Boras. Since the launch, Roc Nation Sports has also signed the WNBA’s 2013 #1 pick, and new face (a beautiful one) of the league Skylar Diggins, and according to multiple media outlets he has also signed NY Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, although the official Roc Nation site does not confirm a Cruz signing, as it does Cano and Diggins, (CAA does claim Cruz, and credits Jay-Z for bringing him aboard). This is a testament to the legend Jay-Z has created, not only in the music industry but far beyond that. It has been said, many, many times that sports and music are synonymous. Athletes often get hype for games listening to music. Music, that often features lyrics driven by comparisons or homages to those same athletes. This move though, this  is on a whole different level.

The launch of this agency was greeted and digested by many as another business move in which Jay-Z would use his fame and wide reach to line his pockets and the pockets of his associates. Many felt Jay-Z would simply be the face of Roc Nation Sports and use his friendship with numerous superstars to convince them to sign with Roc Nation. An easy conclusion to come too, and one that seemed likely. That is until the NFL and MLB stepped in, and promptly put an end to that notion. As I stated above, Jay-Z has already signed Cano, and has also seemingly signed Cruz, much to the chagrin of their respective leagues. Both of whom suspected tampering on Mr Carter’s behalf while he was courting these two stars. There is no issue with the friendship between these men, but when that friendship is deemed responsible for the defection of an athlete from one agency to another, that’s when the lawyers get involved.

Rivals agencies and league officials alike raised concerns with Jay-Z’s new role in sports management, and they were not going to take this lying down. CAA was somewhat able to come to the rescue of their new partner, and tie up any loose ends regarding their clients, but Jay-Z wasn’t in the clear. He would be able to represent MLB and NFL athletes, but if he wanted to handle NBA stars he needed to relinquish his shares of the Brooklyn Nets. Being that basketball is his first love, and he’s often seen court side in numerous NBA arenas, the ability to handle NBA athletes must’ve been a priority when starting his agency. Almost immediately, Hov began selling of his shares of the Nets, proceeded to complete, and then filed the necessary paperwork to become a certified sports agent. Jay-Z or rather, Shawn Carter’s applications with the MLB and NFL have already been approved, and he is expected to be approved by the NBA just in time for June’s NBA Draft. Making him the most recognizable, and influential sports agent across the countries three most predominant sports.

So what, or rather who is next for Hov and CAA? The rumors has already started with Kentucky freshman PF and projected #1 overall pick Nerlens Noel. As we all know, Jay-Z has a solid relationship with Kentucky and Coach Cal, not to mention his relationship with high school and college “handler” World Wide Wes. I expect Jay to make a run at a few more MLB stars, predominantly African Americans. There has been an infusion of young, talented African Americans in the big leagues recently, and I would expect Jay-Z to capitalize on that. Roc Nation Sports will surely venture more into the NFL, and I am certain that Cruz will not be their only client come opening day in September. Jay-Z seems extremely serious about this venture, and in due time I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a certified agent in other, more worldly sports, helping to grow his brand on a global scale.

Could the NBA’s best player team up with his good friend, who doubles as one of his biggest fans? Lebron James and Jay can often be seen together, whether it’s courtside after a game, or out on the town, because of this and CAA’s reputation as one of the best agencies in the game. A jump to Roc Nation Sports wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Shoot, maybe Jigga will even sign former KC Chief running back Larry Johnson. I know you all remember him being down with the ROC during his playing days. Ok, so maybe he won’t, but whether or not you like Jay-Z the rapper, you have to respect Mr. Carter the mogul, as he hasn’t taken many losses in the board room. This agency is a big time power move for Jay and his brand, and only solidifies that fact that he is indeed not a businessman, but rather a business…man.

Should Clowney Shut It Down?

About a week ago the internet began to buzz, over whether or not South Carolina Sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should sit out his junior season in Columbia, in order to not risk a major injury that could derail his certain NFL future. Everyone who is anyone took a stance on this issue, (or rather a side) and voiced their opinion on why he should indeed sit out next fall, or strap on the pads and hit the field. Valid points can be made for each side of the argument, and in this case no one is definitively wrong.

At 6’6″ 260lbs, Clowney is an absolute genetic freak, and arguably the best college football player in the nation. Clowney was the consensus #1 overall player in the country for the class of 2011, and arrived at South Carolina with a reputation that rivaled LeBron James’ coming out of high school. As a true freshman, playing in all 13 games in the nations best conference, the SEC, Clowney recorded 36 tackles, 12 of which were for a loss, and 8 sacks, which was 8th best in the conference. He also forced 5 fumbles, which was 8th best in the entire country. These numbers helped Clowney secure numerous accolades including, SEC Freshman of the Year, All-SEC second team, and a consensus Freshman All-American nod.

Clowney followed up his stellar freshman season with an even better, and more consistent sophomore campaign. In 11 appearances for the Gamecocks Clowney recorded 50 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and 13 sacks, which was tied for 3rd in the nation. Clowney recorded 4.5 sacks en route to a win against arch rival Clemson in the regular season finale. In the Outback Bowl against Michigan, Clowney recorded 5 tackles, 1 for loss. I have a good feeling you all may remember that one for loss, as it was just crowned ESPN’s “best of the best” champion for 21st straight time. With eight minutes left in the 4th quarter, after a turnover swung the momentum in Wolverines favor, Clowney ripped through the Michigan o-line and met running back Vincent Smith in the backfield, dislodging both the football and Smith’s helmet. He then plucked up the football with one hand as if it was his young. This tremendous play swung all the momentum back to South Carolina, who went on to win, 33-28. Clowney again racked up the off-season honors as he was named a consensus first team All-American, the Hendricks award recipient as the nations best defensive end, and was a finalist for the Heisman trophy.

With his remarkable sophomore season, Clowney shot to the top of the 2014 draft boards. It is well documented that football players must be 3 years out of high school before they can declare for the NFL Draft. The rule is this way because it’s hard to believe that any 17 or 18 year old could go from senior prom to battling in the trenches against the biggest, strongest, fastest athletes in the world, and in fact need multiple years in a college program to be ready. If there was ever an exception to this rule, Jadeveon Clowney would be it. There is no doubt in my mind, and in the mind of many that if he was eligible this year, Clowney would be the #1 overall pick. Clowney has already dominated the nations best offensive lineman in the SEC, yet he is years away from reaching his ceiling as a football player. He is still extremely raw, and relies solely on his size and speed to beat opponents. Once he develops an array of moves and understands the game better, he is sure to continue his domination against NFL offensive lineman. This begs the question, should that on field development take place on a college campus in 2013, or on an NFL field in 2014?

Last season, Jadeveon Clowney seen his teammate Marcus Lattimore go down with a dislocation, and several torn ligaments in his right knee. Now, I seen this happen live, and it was easily the most gruesome thing I have ever saw on a football field. Upon watching the reply (why? I still don’t know), I was overcome by sickness and literally felt tingling in my right knee. Lattimore laid on the field in excruciating pain and in utter shock, as this was his second torn ACL in as many years. Lattimore, who before the injury(s) was considered a sure fire early round NFL draft pick is now rehabbing, in hopes of making his NFL dreams come true. Needless to say, what he’s endured will make his journey a whole lot harder, if not impossible to complete.

 

Unfortunately, this past Tuesday I witnessed a sight that I had hoped to never see again. It was that same excruciating pain, and utter shock that I seen on the face of Marcus Lattimore, only this time it was Kentucky’s super freshman  center, Nerlens Noel. The projected #1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft suffered a torn ACL, and will be sidelined for the next 8 to 10 months. Barring any setbacks with his rehab, Noel will still be a lottery pick, likely in the top 5, but along with losing millions of dollars, there is no certainty that Noel will ever turn out to be an NBA star, which seemed like just a formality only four short days ago. I hope the absolute best for Noel, as I do for Lattimore, or any athlete that suffers such a devastating injury, but unfortunately the odds aren’t in their favor. 79% of NFL players who suffer ACL injuries, (the most common career threatening injury), never return to the league. Meaning that for every Adrian Peterson or Tom Brady, their are four professional athletes that will never return to the game they love, drastically affecting their livelihoods.

Now, I have always considered myself a “college guy” when it comes to sports. The pageantry, the atmosphere, the competition, it’s just so compelling and genuine, and easily my preference. For that reason, I want nothing more than to see the nations premiere football player, Jadeveon Clowney suit up on Saturdays and put on a show. After all, that is why he is at the University of South Carolina, isn’t it? While Clowney is receiving a great education on someone else’s dime, I highly doubt he chose South Carolina for the size of their library, or for the amount of Rhode Scholars they’ve produced, but instead for an array of reasons pertaining to his future in professional football. Clowney chose to play college football and he knew full and well that he would be a college kid for at least three years; he literally signed up for it. He made a commitment to the university, his coaches, and his teammates to give them his absolute all for at least three years, and playing this upcoming season would surely be the “right” thing to do, as he would be following through on all the commitments he made back when he signed that national letter of intent in February 2011.

So what should Clowney do? It seems to be the million dollar question at the moment. As I’ve already stated, I’m able to look at this from two different ends of the spectrum. What would I do if I was Jadeveon Clowney? Shut it down! Why go out there and put my future on the line, take the risk ending my career and crushing my hopes and dreams over a degree, that quite frankly I’ll probably never complete. The universities make million upon millions from these kid’s athletic prowess, and outside of an education (which I understand is great) these kids see nothing. Zero, zlich, nada. If I was Mr. Clowney or someone in his circle my advice would be to shut it down, and turn my attention to the next level, the place where my hard work could literally pay off, the NFL.

Now, contrary to every point that I just made, I do not see Clowney sitting out his junior season. Not only would it be unprecedented for him to do so, but Clowney nor his family has stated that this is even an option, and have in fact gone on record saying that he will be playing for the Gamecocks this upcoming season. Clowney understands the commitment he made and isn’t letting the injuries of Lattimore or Noel affect his decision making. As a fan of college football, I love this decision and I look forward to see Clowney wreak havoc on the field this fall. He will be a legitimate contender to become the first predominately defensive player to win a Heisman since Michigan’s Charles Woodson, on his way towards being the likely #1 overall pick in 2014.

As I stated above, it is unprecedented for a collegiate athlete to stay away from the field for a period of time, in order to lower the chances of suffering a career threatening injury. Sooner or later though it will happen, likely forcing the hand of the NCAA and the NFL. I love the college game and everything it incorporates, but unfortunately these days it’s looked upon by many as nothing more than a necessary stepping stone to the professional ranks. It’s the name of the game; everyone and every entity involved need to adjust accordingly. So, should Jadeveon Clowney sit out this upcoming season? Absolutely. Will he? Absolutely not. Either way, I can’t lose; only Jadeveon can.