Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts (Jan. 10, 2021)

By Matt Noonan

Happy Sunday, everyone – I hope this post finds everyone doing well, staying safe, and enjoying a busy weekend of football.

I am back for my second-straight ‘Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts’ column – thank you to everyone that stopped by last week, and I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and opinions on a few sports items, along with some podcast suggestions, too.

As mentioned last week, I am excited to produce some new content and look forward to writing this post every week. Additionally, I hope you look forward to reading this column, too – any suggestions or ideas are welcome!

So, without further ado, here is my thoughts and ideas on sports, life, and more for Sunday, January 10 – be well, stay safe, and think positive thoughts, everyone!


Make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Additionally, don’t forget to subscribe and listen to our podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


Last week, I went into a bit more depth on my thoughts, but today, I am going to dish out a few more thoughts – 10, to be exact – and get right to the point, so here we go:

  • Thought No. 1: Is it just me or is watching Tom Brady in the postseason with another team difficult to watch? To be honest, I found myself rooting for the Washington Football Team last night because of Taylor Heinicke, but deep down, I knew the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were going to win. And last night’s win proved that Brady can win a postseason game without Bill Belichick.
  • Thought No. 2: I give Taylor Heinicke a lot of credit – that was a crazy spot to be put in last night against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, but the former Old Dominion quarterback deserves an opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job this summer with the Washington Football Team.
  • Thought No. 3: Josh Allen is hands down the best quarterback taken in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) Draft. Yes, I know that is an opinion, but he found a way to lead his team to its first postseason win yesterday since 1995. Allen has played great this season and deserves more credit for his improvement under Brian Daboll.
  • Thought No. 4: Due to Covid-19 protocols, NBC’s Mike Tirico was forced to call last night’s Tampa Bay-Washington contest from his house. And to be honest, he sounded great – I mean, he always sounds good, right? Tirico will be heard more over the next few weeks with the National Hockey League (NHL) starting-up its season later this week, but I think what we witnessed last night is the opportunity more networks (and maybe streaming services?) to allow their broadcasters to call games remotely. Of course, there is nothing better than calling a game in an actual arena or stadium – you do miss certain things when you’re not in the building – but if there is one thing we have learned these last few months it is that broadcasts (and other work) can be done from homes and apartments, along with studios, too.
  • Thought No. 5: A few days ago, I saw a great tweet – well, more some amazing career advice from Imry Halevi, who is the assistant director of athletics, multimedia, and production at Harvard University, about finding your way in this very competitive (and yes, crowded) sports world: “There is no ‘right way’ to get that perfect job. No straight line from A to Z.” I encourage everyone to read this tweet and share some thoughts (below!). Imry is someone I admire – he is innovative, as well as a great follow with tons of tremendous advice on the field.
  • Thought No. 6: The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a Covid-19 problem. And they need to do something about it as soon as possible. I am not saying this because of the Boston Celtics injury report, which was released last night – is that game still happening later? – but because it is extremely hard to play basketball in a different city three or four nights each week. But as Austin Rivers of the New York Knicks explained, “If we do our job and remain available, it gives us a chance to win every night.”
  • Thought No. 7: Literally one week after leaving ESPN, Dan Le Batard is teaming-up with his former boss John Skipper for a new venture that will certainly be worth keeping your eyes on.
  • Thought No. 8: Baker Mayfield and his wife, Emily, are my heroes for what they did for a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan that is “terminally ill with kidney cancer and is currently in hospice care.” I am rooting for Mayfield and the Browns this evening against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Thought No. 9: Toss a follow to Emerson Lotzia, Jr. – you will enjoy the content this guys is pumping out on a daily basis, including his thoughts on tonight’s Boston Celtics-Miami Heat contest.
  • Thought No. 10: I’ll take Alabama over Ohio State tomorrow night in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Go Tide!

Podcast Interview Suggestion: Listen to Paul Liberman, who is the co-founder of DraftKings, on The VentureFizz Podcast, which is hosted by Keith Cline. It is a great interview that tells the story of DraftKings – you also gain some tremendous insight on starting your own venture, too.

Florida Tech Cuts Its Football Program

WEBFOOTBALL

There will be no football played this fall at the Florida Institute of Technology. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualunt.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has certainly made an impact on many these days, including higher education institutions like Florida Institute of Technology, which announced earlier today that it would be cutting its football program.

In addition to cutting a football program, which played its first-ever varsity contest on September 8, 2013, the school announced staff reductions and furloughs, along with the closure of the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, according to this morning’s release, which can be seen on the school’s athletic website.

“Indeed, all of higher education is struggling to deal with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty that accompanies a global disruption to daily life,”  Dwayne McCay, the school’s president, wrote in a letter to the Florida Tech community. “Some universities will no doubt close. Florida Tech, however, has plans to persevere.”

The Panthers’ football program stared in 2011 and competed in the Gulf South Conference (Division II). 120 student-athletes competed for the program, which concluded its 2019 campaign with a 5-6 overall record.

Florida Tech posted additional information about canceling its program, which was due to “a number of factors, based primarily on financial concerns, were carefully considered before the final decision was made.” The school does not plan on cutting additional sports teams as of this evening.

Eight coaches were affected by today’s news, but the school plans to assist each individual that is interested in pursuing the opportunity to compete or study at other institutions.

Florida Tech is not the only school to cut an athletic program as Florida International University won’t have a men’s indoor track and field team this upcoming school year while Old Dominion eliminated its wrestling program. Additionally, the University of Cincinnati announced last month that they dropped its soccer program, which began competing in 1973.

The Lessons Learned from Butler’s March Madness Experiences

By Matt Noonan

It wasn’t meant to be, let’s leave it like that. Butler University is not a school of champions, but instead, a college that defines the true meaning of the “student athlete.”

One would certainly not rank the Bulldogs as a school that is equal to Texas, LSU, University of North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan, Duke, Florida or Alabama, but instead, they are the Division I equivalent to an Amherst College or Williams College, (Yes, I just compared Butler to two well-recognized New England institutions).

The college alone has watched their 19 intercollegiate teams earn 26 conference titles over the years, as well as witnessed their men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball teams compete in the NCAA tournament.

Yet, while they may not be known for their championships or banners that hang in their athletic department’s gymnasium, instead, they are and will always be recognized as the true underdog.

You have to wonder what the term “underdog” means to head coach Brad Stevens, who has led his young team of rag tag college students to the past two NCAA Division I men’s basketball finals, which resulted in two back-to-back loses. Stevens has watched Gordon Hayward’s desperation three bounce off the front rim against Duke, as well as endured a heartbreaking loss to Jim Calhoun’s UConn Huskies on Monday.

Although, is “heartbreaking” the right word to describe one of the sloppiest college basketball games ever? Probably not, but hey, I tried.

The Bulldogs game plan against the Huskies was dreadful, as they decided to forgo shots in the paint and only converted 12 of their 64 shots. They even finished the game, [9-33] from beyond the arc, which is something no coach would be pleased about, especially after that particular contest.

Let’s face it, that particular championship was ugly and downright boring. Did anyone truly stay awake to see if Butler could pull off the upset? I know I did, but again, who agrees that it was truly painful to watch?

The Bulldogs are indeed underdogs because no one expects them to succeed, but going toe-to-toe with two of the top basketball schools in the nation is certainly an achievement that they can be proud of, despite losing both times.

What Stevens and his team have proved is that anything is indeed possible, as long as you put your mind and effort to it.

Sure, they may have returned home to the great state of Indiana on Tuesday with no championship trophy in their hands, but the young men certainly have a lot of reasons to keep their chins up, especially after the past two seasons.

The may have finished their 2010-2011 campaign with a [28-10] record, but who truly predicted that the Bulldogs would once again make it back to the title game in Houston? Did anyone you know pick Butler to have another successful season and then dominate the March Madness tournament? If you did, congratulations, but I am sure that you jumped on their bandwagon just like the rest of the country did this past March.

Who would have imagined that head coach Brad Stevens would have led the Bulldogs to two NCAA Championships?

Butler earned some impressive wins in the tournament, as they defeated Old Dominion at the buzzer, thanks to Matt Howard, as well as busted everyone’s bracket when they knocked off top seeded Pittsburgh, 71-70.

In New Orleans, their magic continued as they defeated Wisconsin and then rallied to beat Florida in the NCAA Regional Final.

After arriving to Houston and getting settled, the excitement continued, as they beat another surprise team, Virginia Commonwealth in the Final Four, but after their exciting win against the Rams, their luck ran out and the clock struck midnight, once again.

Sure, they played awful against Connecticut and looked like a Division III team at time that couldn’t play defense, but once again, they defied the odds and showed the nation that hard work does pay off.

The Huskies may have talented players, such as Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb, but seriously, has their hard work measured up to the Bulldogs? I’d say, no, but again, what do I know? Walker and Lamb could be shooting around in an empty gymnasium, while I sit here and digest the March Madness final.

Butler has proved that once again the underdog still matters, especially in sports and life. Whether one wins or loses, it’s not about the scoreboard at the end of the game, but instead, it’s about giving it your absolute best effort.

Why not root for the Bulldogs? Why wouldn’t you not want to root for a team that goes to class, studies the same in the same library and eats at the same table in the cafeteria. These are student athletes that want to be your friends, but also, represent the true meaning of their school and if one can read between the lines, they’ll understand that Butler is truly a school of champions and students that will never back down from a challenge.

The Lessons Learned from Butler's March Madness Experiences

By Matt Noonan

It wasn’t meant to be, let’s leave it like that. Butler University is not a school of champions, but instead, a college that defines the true meaning of the “student athlete.”

One would certainly not rank the Bulldogs as a school that is equal to Texas, LSU, University of North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan, Duke, Florida or Alabama, but instead, they are the Division I equivalent to an Amherst College or Williams College, (Yes, I just compared Butler to two well-recognized New England institutions).

The college alone has watched their 19 intercollegiate teams earn 26 conference titles over the years, as well as witnessed their men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball teams compete in the NCAA tournament.

Yet, while they may not be known for their championships or banners that hang in their athletic department’s gymnasium, instead, they are and will always be recognized as the true underdog.

You have to wonder what the term “underdog” means to head coach Brad Stevens, who has led his young team of rag tag college students to the past two NCAA Division I men’s basketball finals, which resulted in two back-to-back loses. Stevens has watched Gordon Hayward’s desperation three bounce off the front rim against Duke, as well as endured a heartbreaking loss to Jim Calhoun’s UConn Huskies on Monday.

Although, is “heartbreaking” the right word to describe one of the sloppiest college basketball games ever? Probably not, but hey, I tried.

The Bulldogs game plan against the Huskies was dreadful, as they decided to forgo shots in the paint and only converted 12 of their 64 shots. They even finished the game, [9-33] from beyond the arc, which is something no coach would be pleased about, especially after that particular contest.

Let’s face it, that particular championship was ugly and downright boring. Did anyone truly stay awake to see if Butler could pull off the upset? I know I did, but again, who agrees that it was truly painful to watch?

The Bulldogs are indeed underdogs because no one expects them to succeed, but going toe-to-toe with two of the top basketball schools in the nation is certainly an achievement that they can be proud of, despite losing both times.

What Stevens and his team have proved is that anything is indeed possible, as long as you put your mind and effort to it.

Sure, they may have returned home to the great state of Indiana on Tuesday with no championship trophy in their hands, but the young men certainly have a lot of reasons to keep their chins up, especially after the past two seasons.

The may have finished their 2010-2011 campaign with a [28-10] record, but who truly predicted that the Bulldogs would once again make it back to the title game in Houston? Did anyone you know pick Butler to have another successful season and then dominate the March Madness tournament? If you did, congratulations, but I am sure that you jumped on their bandwagon just like the rest of the country did this past March.

Who would have imagined that head coach Brad Stevens would have led the Bulldogs to two NCAA Championships?

Butler earned some impressive wins in the tournament, as they defeated Old Dominion at the buzzer, thanks to Matt Howard, as well as busted everyone’s bracket when they knocked off top seeded Pittsburgh, 71-70.

In New Orleans, their magic continued as they defeated Wisconsin and then rallied to beat Florida in the NCAA Regional Final.

After arriving to Houston and getting settled, the excitement continued, as they beat another surprise team, Virginia Commonwealth in the Final Four, but after their exciting win against the Rams, their luck ran out and the clock struck midnight, once again.

Sure, they played awful against Connecticut and looked like a Division III team at time that couldn’t play defense, but once again, they defied the odds and showed the nation that hard work does pay off.

The Huskies may have talented players, such as Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb, but seriously, has their hard work measured up to the Bulldogs? I’d say, no, but again, what do I know? Walker and Lamb could be shooting around in an empty gymnasium, while I sit here and digest the March Madness final.

Butler has proved that once again the underdog still matters, especially in sports and life. Whether one wins or loses, it’s not about the scoreboard at the end of the game, but instead, it’s about giving it your absolute best effort.

Why not root for the Bulldogs? Why wouldn’t you not want to root for a team that goes to class, studies the same in the same library and eats at the same table in the cafeteria. These are student athletes that want to be your friends, but also, represent the true meaning of their school and if one can read between the lines, they’ll understand that Butler is truly a school of champions and students that will never back down from a challenge.

NCAA March Madness Day One Wrap Up

By Matt Noonan

Butler barely got by Old-Dominion, but can they sneak by Pittsburgh on Saturday?

Thursday was obviously a true “March Madness day.” A few brackets have been busted, some fans have dropped tears like the Miami Heat and others, such as those down in New Jersey who attend Princeton University are still shocked by the Wildcats beating their Tigers men’s basketball team, but hey, life goes on.

Any who, let us take a look back on the day’s action, as well as get everyone set for Friday’s 16-game slate, which should feature some enticing matchups that could clearly bust a few more brackets.

Game of the Day: It has to go to Butler-Old Dominion and while this may have not been the most well executed contest of them all, it clearly had that dramatic ending with the cherry on top. The Bulldogs seemed to pick up where they had left off last year during the tournament, as Butler somehow maneuvered themselves toward a NCAA title game against Duke in Indianapolis, but the end result to their fairy tale run was a loss

However, with the game on the line and Old Dominion trying to force overtime after hitting two critical free-throws, Butler senior forward Matt Howard recorded his second offensive rebound of the day and immediately scored at the buzzer to solidify the win for the Bulldogs.

Again, this may not have been the most well put together victory by the Bulldogs, but Butler will certainly need to regroup fast before their “date with destiny” against Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Upset of the Day: It seemed obvious that the true upset of the day belongs to Morehead State, as the Eagles flew past Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, 62-61. Yet, what made this upset so special was certainly the final play by Morehead State’s senior guard, Demonte Harper, who knocked down the game winning shot with less than 10 seconds remaining in the second half.

Louisville entered the tournament on a down note, as they lost to University of Connecticut during the Big East conference tournament, which seemed to carry over to Thursday’s contest against the Eagles. At times the Cardinals displayed their flaws and showed that they weren’t quite a strong enough team, especially since Louisville was unable to extend their leads during the first and second half.

The Cardinals defense appeared lackluster at times and even seemed out of sync on offense. Louisville took on the role that a majority top-seeded teams does against a weaker opponent, shoot from outside the paint. The constant misses added up and eventually coast them a chance to advance to the next round against Richmond. Instead, the Eagles live another day and certainly will have to play at their best against a talented Richmond team that was able to sneak by Vanderbilt for their first win of the tournament.

Statistic of the Day: Clearly, the “stat of the day” belongs to Kentucky’s freshman guard, Brandon Knight who may missed his first seven shots of the game, but was the hero when the Wildcats needed a score. Sure, other players throughout the day may have recorded 15, 20 or 25 points, but how many of them began the tournament [0-7]? Knight’s special moment will clearly be remembered, but the only way it will be glorified is if the Wildcats can maneuver a way to win the East bracket, as well as eventually win the National Championship too.

Don’t consider Kentucky a favorite to knock out Ohio State, Xavier, University of North Carolina or Syracuse, but again, Knight will want to built off of his heroic moment, as well as knock down shots to begin their next game against an up and down West Virginia team.

Looking Ahead to Friday: Indeed, the opening day of the tournament was exciting, but Friday promises to be even more enjoyable.

Games to watch: Michigan vs. Tennessee, Akron vs. Notre Dame, Villanova vs. George Mason, Georgetown vs. VCU and believe it or not, Kansas vs. Boston University.

While it is certainly is a long shot, one other game to certainly watch out for will be University North Carolina vs. Long Island, which could be a possible #15 vs. #2 upset, but most likely, the Tar Heels will win, so don’t get too excited Blackbird fans.