DOES ANYONE HAVE A CLUE

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a dismal 2-14 2014 season, what does the dynamic duo of Lovie Smith and Jason Light (from this point on referred to as Smight because this Smight work) decide one of the main needs that will turn around the franchise is a punter? Yes, today the Bucs signed Andrew Wilder whose collegiate average is a smidgen over four yards a punt better than current Michael Koenen. With an offense almost at the bottom of the NFL in every major offensive statistic, I’m guessing that Smight wants to help out the defense by putting the opposition four yards farther from their end zone. That should be worth two or three more wins, right? Not!

WHAT’S HOT

The Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bolts are on fire especially when they’re on Amalie Arena ice! With their 3-1 home win over Detroit, Tampa Bay (with 95 points and trailing division leading Montreal, whom they have beaten all four times, by only 4 points) leads the NHL with an amazing 28 home wins (Anaheim is second with 25) and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 contests (only Ottawa, with a 9-1 mark over the same period, has a better record). It all starts, and ends, with the goaltending and the Lightning are blessed with two extremely talented net-minders in starter Ben Bishop (with a 35-11-4 record and a save percentage of .916) and back-up Andrei Vasilevskiy (who has a 6-4-1 log with a .918 save percentage). Let’s hope the Bolts aren’t peaking too soon and can ride this wave to a deep run in playoffs and another trip to the Stanley Cup finals.

WHAT’S NOT

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Selection Committee

The “powers that be” that decided upon the 68 teams to begin March Madness had two major oops moments. First, they decided to let into the field University of Texas while keeping out Murray State University. The Longhorns, in the Power Five Big 12 Conference, won less than half of their conference tilts but were selected because of their “quality road wins” which didn’t help when Hook-em Horns were dispatched by Butler University in their opening game. Murray State, from the mid-major Ohio Valley Conference, was told by the Selection Committee that they were lacking “quality wins” when all Racers did was run the table in the regular season and not lose a game in 2015 as well as finish the regular season as the 25th ranked Division I Men’s Basketball team in the county. The “mortal sin” they committed was not winning their conference tournament, which is the automatic bid to the “Big Dance”, when Belmont beat them with a desperation three-point shot at the buzzer. The OVC regular season champs beat UTEP in the opening round of the NIT and play at Tulsa University Monday. The second faux pas was allowing the University of Dayton to play Boise State University in the first round in their home arena. A record crowd of 12,000 plus packed the UD Arena with almost all of them rooting for the Flyers. So much for a neutral floor

LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL

New Stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays

News flash to Stu Sternberg – A stadium in Hillsborough County is not the “slam dunk” you may think it happens to be. It will be extremely difficult, and almost impossible, to get a totally taxpayer funded venue. Least I remind the owner of the Rays that the last tax increase referendum for a stadium (the one that built Raymond James Stadium for the Bucs) passed by less than one percent of the vote. Also, if the vote was taken after electorate found out about the “sweetheart” clauses in the agreement (parking revenue from all events to name just one) the outcome probably would have been different. The political leadership in Hillsborough County along with the City of Tampa will need to do one bang-up marketing campaign to convince the voters to push the yes button on the touch screen if it gets on the ballot.

By Leo Haggerty