Friday, September 28, 2007

Week 4 Report

The Metropolitan Athletic Club of Dallas , Texas

The 2007 National Return Specialist Award


Week 4 continues with three dominant teams- #1USC, #2LSU and #4 OU- crushing the opposition while #3Florida struggled on the road at Ole Miss.#5West Virginia and #6Cal cruised and #7Texas, finally at full strength, looked like the monster sportswriters predicted. The Curse of the Big Ten Network rears its ugly head again- #8Ohio State destroys Northwestern, but #9Wisconsin struggles again and #10Penn State flopped to Michigan. Coupled with the fact that every other team was playing on OTHER television network obligations, the league network was stuck with Indiana-Illinois as the premier game. #22Georgia nipped #16Alabama, #11Oregon rolled and #20Texas A&M was thumped on Thursday night by Miami, turning up the heat on Aggies Head Coach Dennis Franchione.

For some reason, this week saw a lack of defense and it haunted all the teams for the most part-- #18Louisville fell 3 points short of previously winless Syracuse; Texas Tech and Oklahoma State combined for nearly 3/4 of a mile of offense in the Cowboys win. #24Nebraska gave up 600 yards to Ball State, yet still escaped with a 1 point win over the Cardinals (but lost its spot in the Top 25 for next week). Iowa State is still struggling after losing to its second MAC team of the year in Toledo but both Kansas and Mizzou have tallied 4-0 starts under the radar.

This week sees a few warm ups: the Big East and Pac 10 have some early conference challenges, while the SEC sees which team bounces back- Auburn from its early season disappointment or Florida from its scare in Oxford. A neutral site non-conference showdown hits in Jacksonville, where Alabama and Florida State collide.

Our weekly trip through history gives us the following random notes:

� Notre Dame is 0-4 for the first time in 119 years. In 1887, Notre Dame fielded a team after learning the new game from some students at the University of Michigan . Also in that year the US Naval received permission from the Senate to lease a base at Pearl Harbor in what was then the Kingdom of Hawaii . The monarchy would fall in 1893 and fall under US authority shortly thereafter.

� Notre Dame unveiled a statue of Irish coaching great Ara Parseghian last week at Notre Dame Stadium. To contrast the "Era of Ara", the 10 year period in which Parseghian roamed the sidelines with the current decade: Parseghian's teams won 3 out of 4 bowl games and never lost more than 3 games in a single season and one lost back to back one (losses to close the season at Southern Cal and the Orange Bowl against Nebraska in 1972. The last ten years of Notre Dame football have seen 5 losing seasons (not including the current 0-4 record) and at least 13 sets of back to back losses.

� Keeping with the Irish theme: they lost to Michigan State for the 6th straight time at home, meaning that the Sparties became the first team to hold that over the Irish's heads and that they haven't tasted defeat at Notre Dame Stadium since 1993-when the first late night talk show battles started. That year, The Late Show with David Letterman was first broadcast on CBS opposite The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC and NBC introduced Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

� In defeating Northwestern in Columbia , The Ohio State Buckeyes played their 500th game in Ohio Stadium, fondly known as 'The Horseshoe'. The stadium opened in 1922 at a cost of $1.49Million. The Buckeyes� record in the stadium on the banks of the Olentangy River is 376-104-20. 1922 also marks the beginning of construction on Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and the first radio in the White House.

Highlights from this week's action:

* Out in the islands after everyone was sleeping, Hawaii dismantled Charleston Southern, 66-10. The Warriors reeled off 45 points in the second half. Leading the way was JR DB Ryan Mouton who had a 90 yard kickoff return.

* Ohio lost by a point to Wyoming , but it wasn't for the Bobcats' SOPH WR Chris Garrett returning the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. It tied Jerry France vs. BGSU in 1964 for second longest return in Ohio history.

* Second quarter of Idaho-Northern Illinois had a blocked punt in the end zone for a score, a fumbled recovered in the end zone for another score and a 100 yard kickoff return by Idaho's SOPH S Shiloh Keo. The first two events were NIU's gains, but Keo set a new Idaho school record.

* Toledo's SR HB Jalen Parmele had an 82 yard kickoff return in the Rockets' upset of Iowa State. Parmele returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, marking the first time the Rockets have returned a kickoff for a score since Richard Davis raced 94 yards against Western Illinois on Sept. 1, 2005.

* In the Sooners' pistol-whipping of Tulsa on Friday night, OU FR HB Demarco Murray had an 81 yard kickoff return vs Tulsa

* Syracuse's FR DB Max Sutter had a 93 yard kickoff return in the Orange's 35-38 upset of Louisville . It was Syracuse's first KO returned for a score since Kevin Johnson returned one 100 yards vs Miami (FL) in 1998.

* UCLA SR DB Matt Slater had an 85 yard kickoff return in the Bruin's44-31 win over Washington . This was the first kickoff return score for the Bruins since Brandon Breazell had two against Northwestern in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 30, 2005. It was the first kickoff returned for a touchdown by a Washington opponent since Ben Kelly of Colorado returned one for 98 yards on Sept. 25, 1999.

* Arkansas's JR RB Felix Jones 82 yard free kick return in the Razorbacks� loss to Kentucky . This makes the 4th kick return score of his career (and 2nd of this season), tying Willie Gault of Tennessee,in the 42-29 loss to the Cats.

* Northwestern's FR TB Stephen Simmons had a 99 yard punt return vs. Ohio State in the Wildcats�58-7 loss in Columbus . It marked the first occurrence since Jeff Backes returned a 97 yard kickoff in 2004 and tied Curtis Duncan's effort vs Indiana in 1984 and is just behind Jason Wright�s 100 yard school record vs TCU in 2002.

* Purdue's SR WR Desmond Tardy jumpstarted things with a 95 yard kickoff to score in the Boilermakers' 45-31 win over Minnesota . Tardy's scoring kickoff return is the second for the Boilermakers this season, marking the first time a Purdue team returned two kickoffs for touchdowns since 1972. The season record for a Purdue team is three in 1970.

* Mizzou's FR WR Jeremy Maclin marked a second return score on a 64 yard punt against Illinois State . With the return Maclin becomes the first Tiger to return two punts in a season since Leo Lewis did in 1975. He is also the fourth Tiger to have two punt return touchdowns is his career. The others are Lewis, John Mosely in 1973 and Don Smith in 1960.

* NC State's SR WR Darrell Blackman had a 99 yard KO return in the first quarter of Clemson�s comeback over NC State. Senior return specialist/wide receiver Darrell Blackman, the ACC's all-time leader in kickoff return average, scored two touchdowns, the first on a school-record 99-yard kickoff return in the first quarter.

� Virginia Tech's SR WR Eddie Royal posted a 44 yard punt returns score vs. William & Mary Tech wasted little time getting back at it in the second quarter. The Hokies forced a W&M punt on the third snap of the period, and Eddie Royal - after making two sharp cuts in the first five yards - turned on the jets and returned it 60 yards for his second-career punt return touchdown.

Moving Up: Kevin Robinson, Utah State- The SR WR looks like he's trying to put an exclamation point on his return career. After notching 3 punt returns and 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns over his career, Robinson had a slow start as the Aggies played UNLV, at Wyoming and at OU. However, a solid evening against San Jose State bumped Robinson to #8 nationally in punt returns. He put up 78 yards on 3 punt returns, increasing his average by nearly 25% to 19.50 yards/return.

Moving Down: Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina- Alas, Captain, My Captain, the SOPH DB is ranked next to last in the SEC�s kickoff returns, despite having 2x as many return opportunities as the next guy. He ranks 95th out of 99 nationally with his 21.50 yards/kickoff return- a full 0.50 yards ahead of #99.

Game of the Week for Week 5
#5West Virginia @ #18 South Florida
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Florida

Last season, South Florida upset then #7West Virginia for only their second loss in Morgantown over the past 2 years. Now, it's the Bulls who claim the big home field advantage:11-2 at home since they joined the Big East from Conference USA in 2005 and the Mountaineers have revenge on their minds.

WVU Headman Rich Rodriguez flirted with the Alabama head coaching position last winter, only to gaze upon what he had in place and realized that the grass wasn't greener on the other side. How does one say that when looking at the support, talent and history of the Crimson Tide? It's simple:Rodriguez took a look at an offense headed up by hiccup-quick JR QB Pat White and JR HB Steve Slaton and threw in Youtube Superstar FR HB Noel Devine. Backing up the spread option attack is a defense that ranks 15th in the nation, lead by the linebacking trio of JR LB Mortty Ivy, SR Marc Magro and JR LB Reed Williams.

South Florida's head coach, Jim Leavett, has been equally as popular lately- with Kansas State asking for permission a few years back when legendary Wildcat coach Bill Snyder retired. After building the program up from scratch and coaching every game in the Bulls' history, the Bulls are living up to their potential behind SOPH QB Matt Grothe and his ground game: a two headed monster of JR HB Ben Williams and Crimson Tide refugee FR HB Mike Ford. An opportunistic defense has helped lead the way to upsets vs. North Carolina and at Auburn. SE DE George Selvie has tallied 8.5 sacks through the first 3 games and SOPH FS Nate Allen is tied for 9th in the NCAA with 2 interceptions for the year.

Rats Off the Sinking Ship

The quarterback who started the season opener for Notre Dame has left for Cincinnati.

Former No 1 National Tight End Recruit Konrad Rueland has also decided to leave South Bend.

Now backup guard Chris Stewart may be picking up his toys and transferring. Rumors have Stewart back in the Houston area contemplating transferring instead of facing off with Purdue.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hot Time in River City

Evidently, the heat is turning up on new Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe, who has now tallied a loss in exactly 1/2 of the Cardinals' games. Yes, the shootout vs. Kentucky was a rivalry game that the Wildcats had circled on their calendar with their All-SEC Sr QB, Andre Woodson.

But losing to Syracuse AT HOME-- the same Syracuse that's been 5-18 the past 2 years is a little tough to swollow for a team that's been consistently in the Top 10.

RIP, Blackshirts

I never really thought it would come to this, but sadly, not only is Nebraska not known for a dominant ground game that defined the Cornhuskers for decades, but somewhere over the Bill Callahan Expirement, the famed Blackshirts forgot how to play defense.

Coming out of Week 4, the Huskers sport a 3-1 record, with a loss to #1USC. IF that was were everything stopped, it wouldn't be bad. However, looking into the numbers shows just how much Big Red has shrunk:

First off 3 wins: Two of the wins aren't any reason to celebrate. The Huskers held off Ball State - the same Ball State that has never beaten a D-IA team- by 1 point in Lincoln. Nebraska beat a plucky Wake Forest squad that was missing its starting QB by 3 on Tobacco Road. These are both teams that the Huskers should have dismissed as easily as Nevada in the opener.

99. AS in 99th out of 119 in rushing defense. This isn't like it's been Miami vs. Virginia Tech, this is during the period of the schedule when the cupcakes are gobbled up by the big boys. NU is at the bottom of the conference

29. As in 29 points per game yielded by the famed Blackshirts.

75th- ranking in total yards/game. Texas Tech gave up over 600 yards to Oklahoma State last week and is still in front of the Bugeaters.

12 out of 12. Dead last in tackles for losses and sacks in the Big XII.

Run, Felix, Run!

Arkansas' Felix Jones goes to the house on another kickoff return vs Kentucky in Fayetteville.

DeMarco Murray Kickoff Return for TD @ Tulsa 9/21/07

OU's Redshirt Freshman HB takes one back under the Friday Night Lights vs. Tulsa

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Derrick Williams PR TD against Notre Dame

The speedy WR for the Nittany Lions takes the punt 78 yards to the endzone in Penn State's blowout of Notre Dame

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Not So Big Red

USC's undressing of Nebraska on national TV was another reality check for the storied Cornhusker program. Riding high at 2-0, the Huskers had garnered a #14 ranking heading into the showdown. But one must ask if that ranking would have been there if it wasn't for the history surrounding the program-- why was this Nebraska team any better than, say, Mizzou at 3-0. The Huskers had dominated the opener against Nevada, but the fabled Blackshirt D had given up 200+ yards to Wake Forest.

While the Big XII holds its breath and hopes for a team of power to develop in the North and challenge the South division schools, people are starting to wonder if the window is closing on the Cornhuskers. Once the dominant force in the league, the Children of the Corn may not even be the best in their division. They will be tested by Mizzou's offense and a quickly rebuilt K-State, who was the first to show the nation that Auburn was mortal when they went to the wire with the Tigers on the Plains. Throw in the fact that the Wildcats have split the past 10 games with Big Red, and suddenly the tilt in November could have large implications. Colorado is showing great strides under Dan Hawkins and Kansas is undefeated, even though they have yet to play any team of merit.

Big 10(Eleven) Still Reeling

The Big 10 felt alright with Michigan pounding a pitiful Notre Dame team this week to avoid 0-3 for the Wolverines, but the conference took a beating on other fronts. The bellcow for the league, Ohio State, easily dispatched Washington and most of the conference continues to feast on the cupcakes. There's nothing wrong with that, but still.....

Bad News....
Wisconsin beat The Citadel by 14, but was tied at the half at HOME. This comes just one week after the Badgers snuck out of Las Vegas with a narrower win. Pitt stretched Michigan State before the Sparties won by 4.

More disturbing was Duke's win at Northwestern---to end a 22 game losing streak for the Blue Devils against D-I competition.

But wait! There's more...
Rebuilding Minnesota lost to Florida Atlantic--yes, the Owls who have been playing D-I football since 2004 in the Sun Belt with no conference titles and no bowl games--took down Minnesota's Golden Gophers, who have played football for almost 125 years and have claimed 6 national titles and 18 conference championships.

And even worse....

Iowa lost 13-15 to Iowa State. The Cyclones get the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the 7th time in the last 10 years, but how do the Hawkeyes drop this one? Iowa State had lost at home to Kent State and Northern Iowa under first year coach Gene Chizik. Surely Kirk Ferentz, at one time thought to be one of the greatest minds in college football this decade when he went 31-7 from 2002-2004, hasn't fallen this far.

Thankfully, Illinois defeated Big East cellar-dweller Syracuse in a matchup of coaches that have 6-20 (Ron Zook with the Illini) and 5-21 (Greg Robinson at Syracuse) since being hired in 2004.

Congrats, Dukies.....

Perhaps the greatest poetic justice in college sports is Duke. Yes, here is Duke, the academic bastion that somehow recruits the best basketball players in the world to play for a man with a strange last name and they dominate everyone. They're good in women's hoops. Lacrosse. Soccer. I'm sure they're good in tiddleywinks.

But they are baaaaaaaaaaaad in the one sport a majority of the NCAA membership relies upon to fund their athletic departments: football.

Still, the Blue Devils defeated Northwestern this past week 20-14 ON THE ROAD. The first win against a D-IA opponent in 22 games. The last major victory was against Clemson in Nov. 2005. The last time they went on the road to beat a D-I team was even longer--North Carolina in 2004.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Brandon Tate Kickoff Return TD

This was Tate's 2nd kickoff return for a score in his career, against Notre Dame last year. Tate now has 3 kickoff returns for scores in his career and 2 punts for a touchdown. His last was a punt return this week against E.Carolina.

Desean Jackson 77 yard punt return for TD vs. Tennessee

A great statement for the first weekend of the season

So When Does Michigan Start Playing For Next Year?

OK, if I'm gonna give Notre Dame all the grief for rebuilding but not officially rebuilding per Charlie Weis, then I've got to ask the same question of similarly performing 0-2 Michigan.

Yes, it's a little tougher here- Everyone thinks that seemingly lame duck head coach Lloyd Carr will either be chased off or fade into the sunset after this year, but Carr has one thing that the Irish didn't: a returning senior starter at quarterback.

Now, Chad Henne has put up great numbers, but most Michigan fans believe them to be rather hollow. Going 0-3 against Ohio State and 0-3 in bowls as the starter tends to do that. The fact that Michigan struggled to score until it was too late against D-IAA Appalachian State and couldn't muster more double digits against a good, but not great Oregon team (the Ducks are ranked 97th in total defense through 2 games--including the beatdown in Ann Arbor), just don't help bolster any confidence.

And what's the problem? You've got a Heisman Hopeful in Mike Hart. Yes, Hart's been limited, but it's not like he's playing behind UL-Lafayette's line. Michigan has Big Jake Long at tackle. There are playmakers in the WR corp--including Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. So now Carr is listed as week to week with a 'leg injury'.

Sadly, the future is now for Michigan fans--start seeing what ya got with young Ryan Mallett. The 6'7" gunslinger from Texarkana has been named starting QB. This is a good thing-although it has the potential to get very ugly. Of course, taking your licks in a season that has already been written off is far better than learning on the fly when the Wolverines are still in the hunt for a national title or at least a little national respect.

But will Carr do it? If he's coaching to keep his job, then he'll probably go with the best/most experienced player (Henne). If Carr recognizes that the future probably doesn't include him, where is his motivation to take lumps so the next coach can inherit a seasoned QB? Finally, Carr has a well-established reputation for loyalty, so is it a stretch to see him as loyal to the Senior Henne or perhaps let his staff showcase their best in efforts to help with the impending changing of the guard?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spurrier Calls The Dawgs Out....

The great thing about Steve Spurrier (as long as he's not coaching a rival or the team you are about to play or the team that just defeated you) is that he's a quote machine. Yes, Texas Tech's Mike Leach will wax philosophical on a variety of subjects, but Spurrier throws darts......darts armed with nuclear warheads.

Case in point-- this week after conquering Georgia in Athens--Spurrier pulled the anti-Lou Holtz. Holtz, Spurrier's predecessor at South Carolina would praise, praise, praise the opponent before the game. Spurrier came right out and said it:" It wasn't like they were some big, powerful team. Kentucky and Vandy beat 'em last year"....

Ironically, the last SEC East Team that the Bulldogs did win was Spurrier's South Carolina squad last September in Columbia, 18-0.

What Has Happened to the ACC?

Virginia Tech, Florida State and Miami have been smacked on national TV in the first two weeks of the season. Defending champ Wake Forest blows the chance to knock off a resurgent Nebraska. North Carolina loses to East Carolina. Virginia loses to Wyoming.
Duke is still Duke and NC State is starting to become Duke. The saving grace in the league seems to be Georgia Tech, Clemson and BC. But none of those strike fear into the national conscience and at least one will fall from the ranks of the undefeated this weekend.

Ironically, the ACC doesn't even have the interconference swagger that the Big East does---the Big East has a 3-1 record vs other BCS squads. yup, go ahead and raid the best three programs from that league and all of a sudden, the ACC is 1-4 vs the BCS conferences (and that 1 is vs. Notre Dame). The mark will probably go to 2-4 with Florida State's game vs a rebuilding Colorado, but still, it's a sad statement.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Tired of Big Ten Talk? Sorry, It's Back & Ego-Centric

While I was rummaging through the channels last week, I stumbled upon the Big Ten Network and their attempts to spin the Michigan loss at home to Appalachian State.
I believe it was the Detroit New's beat writer for the Wolverines, Angelique S. Chengelis, who said in a TV interview with the BTN that this loss showed her just how much Michigan is hated around the country.

I disagree. Don't confuse the joy of the underdog shocking one of the perennial powers with hatred. You want hatred? Try Notre Dame. These guys have the cash, the history, their own TV network and they dictate terms to the Big East for all the other sports due to their name, yet the Irish are the one truly independent team in college football. Go ahead and call them the Yankees of college football. Unfortunately, the Wolverines are much more like the Boston Red Sox--- lots of cash, some great names, media love galore, sell a lot of uniforms, a great stadium, etc.

But no one really HATES the BoSox or for that matter, outside of Columbus,OH or East Lansing very few really hate Michigan.

This wasn't about 'hating Michigan' but more so the American Dream-- anyone can do anything with their life. If doesn't matter if you're the smallest guy going against the biggest. People mistake rooting FOR Appalachian State with rooting AGAINST Michigan. It could have been Miami, Alabama, USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and the roar of approval would have been just as loud-- a matter of fact, it was just as loud last year when underdog Boise State took down OU in the Fiesta Bowl.

Sadly, Michigan fans are coming across like the Royal Family in the movie "The Queen"--sadly out of touch with just how spoiled they are and harboring an entitlement complex that makes the Blue out to be more of a villain than noble example.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Remember when Charlie Weiss was adamant that despite a new QB, a new defensive scheme, a new WR corp, a new tailback--- 2007 was not a rebuilding year? He even went so far as to claim that The Almighty should strike him down if he mumbled the words.

Well, lightening hasn't struck South Bend just yet--maybe because God talked with his attorneys and was advised to wait for the actual verbatim statement from Wiess on rebuilding was uttered-- but the actions say that it's close to being so.

Weiss sheltered the program's 3 headed QB beast by not announcing a starter until the day of the Georgia Tech game. A strategic masterpiece as the Irish didn't score a touchdown for the first time since Charlie came to Notre Dame. He played all 3 QB's and all 3 looked pretty bad.

Now, Weiss has announced the Jimmy Clause will start the Penn State game
. Clausen is now ruled battlefield ready from an elbow surgery that was kept under wraps over the spring and summer and gets his chance as starter this Saturday against JoePa's boys. Sadly, this screams 'give up'--for the obvious reason. With a blue chip QB already committed for next year, Weiss needs to know if Clausen's the real deal. And no coach invests the future of a program in seniors if they know that the present won't be very good. Take you lumps with youngsters and see if they can play and build for the future instead of getting walloped with upperclassmen that won't be here in 2 years.

Irish faithful are looking at trips to State College and Ann Arbor, then seeing a home game with Michigan State, followed by trips to Purdue and UCLA, chased by a visit from USC. There is a realistic chance that Notre Dame starts the season 0-7.
If that's the case, it's better to build for the future instead of letting some seniors beat up on the Service Academies, Duke and Stanford.

Jimmy, your audition starts now.

Coddled One Time Blue Chip Continues to Shoot Himself in the Foot

According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland Backup QB Josh Portis has been accused of copying another student's homework. Portis was supposed to play this season, but has now been declared academically ineligible by UM. He admitted to violating the school's honor code, but no details were given.

While Portis may not be a household name to the average football fan, just a few years back he was supposed to be the next least according to his momma. Back in 2005, she announced to the Gainesville Sun that her son needed to be at a school where all of his talents can be taken care of" into that "not sit on the bench behind former #1 National QB Recruit Chris Leak and pushed by future program savior Tim Tebow". While the idea of knocking Leak off was a bit much , the concept of Portis reading the tea leaves with Tebow is a stretch--especially since Tebow had yet to sign with the Gators by the time Portis left.

Digging back a little more to Portis' high school days, you see his mom moved him around several high schools in California, then they committed to Utah after their BCS run with Alex Smith. Of course, that was coached by Meyer, who left for Florida and Portis followed (not a major shock there). Of course, this just goes to show that Portis in less than 6 years has had commitments (whether binding or not) at 6 academic institutions-- 3 California High Schools as well as Utah, Florida, Maryland.

His mom was the mouthpiece through which the decision to move Portis from Florida, announcing on a Thursday night to the Gainesville media, only to have Josh confirm the next morning. She had also been a beat writer's dream with comments and quotes since she couldn't stand the empty nest in LA and moved with her son 3,000 miles to Florida as he enrolled.

I'm sure she'll have a good excuse for this latest incident as well. Or at least creative, but something tells me it won't be about responsibility. It's never her son's fault.

Yeah, we all knew kids like this who were about as sharp as a bag of wet hair, but their mom just had to put him in that honors physics class and it was the teacher's fault that her kid was failing. Or that the 5'4", 120 lb kid that couldn't walk and chew gum was being cheated out of starting by the coach. Never mind the 6'3" 240 lb mass of muscle that had just signed with State might really just be better.


In a story that just won't go away, Oregon State return stud Sammie Stroughter has now returned to the team for the Beavers' showdown with Cincy. While I would like to make some comment on this, ESPN has a nice write up and I'm tired of saying one thing only to be contradicted less than a week later.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Stroughter Likely Out For Season

One of last year's Return Man Award finalists, Sammie Stroughter, likely will not play for Oregon State this season. Perhaps best known for his punt return score in the Beaver's upset of USC last year, Stroughter has been missing from the OSU teams since August 8th, and released a statement explaining the situation.

Whether Stroughter will return to the team this season at this time is unknown.

North Texas Coach Gets A Taste of Karma

The past 8 months in Dallas/Fort Worth have been about the new era that will dawn in Denton at the campus of the University of North Texas. The Mean Green hired Todd Dodge, the mastermind behind the local high school powerhouse, Southlake Carroll. His Dragons had mopped up the top classification in Texas High School football- winning 4 5A titles in the past 5 years. He was to be the next coach that made the jump directly from high school to D-I college.

However, Dodge and his North Texas squad were on the receiving end of a 79-10 blowout by OU, giving Dodge that bitter taste that he gave many opposing high school coaches. Perhaps it's karma--although it wasn't a shock.

Dodge's hype has been tempered by the comparisons to Dennis Parker--the former Texas high school coach that lead Marshall to the state title, then signed on with UNT in 1991 as the head coach. Ironically, he brought Dodge to Denton as an assistant coach on his staff. Sadly, that staff only lasted 3 seasons.

The other great name that is bandied about? Gerry Faust and his trip from running Cincinnati Moeller and jumped to Notre Dame in 1981. He only won 30 games and resigned in 1985.

Of course folks forget that Faust won his first game after taking over for Dan Devine-- upsetting LSU 27-9 and then it fell apart for the Irish who finished 5-6.

Perhaps the opposite will come true for UNT-- the Eagles play two games in which they are bringing the proverbial knife to a gunfight(road dates at OU and Arkansas)-- before settling into the Sun Belt. Their other two nonconference games are against Navy and SMU.

Rough Week for Former Texas Defensive Coordinators

The last 3 defensive coordinators at Texas were: Greg Robinson/Dick Twomey; Gene Chizik and now, Duane Akina.

This has been a rough week for all involved. Consider this-- the first three names all left one of the strongest programs in the history of college football surrounded by a talent pool so deep, no one can see the bottom. The unfortunate fact is that they left for places where the talent depth was equal to the uncomfortably warm kiddy pool at most country clubs-- Tomey to San Jose State, Robinson to Syracuse, Chizik to Iowa State.

While Tomey has been able to get the Spartans to respectability (they won a very quiet 9 games last year), they started off this season by being runover by Arizona State, 45-3.

Robinson seems mired in the muck of Upstate New York (going 5-18 over the past 2 years and 1 game). Losing at home 42-12 to a Washington team that battled Stanford for the bottom of the Pac10 last year and was breaking in a new QB, doesn't get any of the heat off of his squad.

Chizik, who had created nightmare defenses at both UT and Auburn, promptly took the Iowa State job, changed the uniforms and then went on to lose his debut, 23-14 to Kent State at home. Consider that Kent St had 3 turnovers inside the Iowa State 20 yard line and it gets scarier.

And finally, Akina, the man that is now holding the reigns on the defense for the Longhorns. A loyal soldier who has more than paid his dues, Akina, may feel the most heat. His defense looked unimpressive against lowly Arkansas State in Austin. Yes, their were suspensions. Yes, new starters were in place (especially since last year's swiss cheese secondary sent 3 players to the NFL draft). Yes, his charges held off 3 penetrations by the Indians with no points.

However, Akina's job is the toughest. He is at a school ranked in the Top 5. Mack Brown has recruited talent well, so much it seems like the Horns simply restock the secondary like a teenager restocks lima beans at a grocery store. The others left Texas and its success for places that haven't seen the success that has happened at the 40 Acres. Luckily, Akina will get a great chance next week matching up with a ranked TCU squad coming to town. Hopefully, that will turn down some of the pressure...


It's the first week of the season and it seems that it's already in the ditch for two of the biggest names in college football:

Michigan & Notre Dame.

Yes, those Titans of the Game. Those schools ranked #1 & #2 in all-time winning percentage and combined for 22 national titles.

Both are 0-1, after losing their openers AT HOME. Yes, The House That Rockne Built and The Big House aren't the same foreboding places that they once were or perhaps it's simply that the teams that play in them aren't as good as many had hoped.

With its loss to unranked Georgia Tech, Notre Dame is now on a 3 game losing streak. With its loss to D-IAA Appalachian State, Michigan is now on a 3 game losing streak.

And it doesn't get any better for either squad. Michigan gets Oregon-- a team with as much talent as App State possessed and more money from Nike than most 3rd world countries' GDPs. Notre Dame gets JoePa and Penn State--hardly the matchup that Charlie Weiss wanted.

The only good news is that Michigan plays Notre Dame in 2 weeks, meaning that at least one school will have a win by Week 4.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Remove The Media Altogether

No, I don't mean we should forgo the First Amendment and rid the world of information the media provides. What I do mean, however, is that we should eliminate it as a cog in the wheel of college football determinations. With the NFL, it doesn't matter who Collinsworth picks to win the NFC South, NFC, or the Superbowl. It is determined on the field. Not so much in college football. Before the pigskin is launched into the air for the season's opening kickoff, many teams have already received a sealed fate from the media. While some teams are able to claw their way into the BCS rankings, despite minimal preseason rankings, it is clear that the top spots must be within reach from the beginning. Now, part of me should be glad for this. My beloved LSU Tigers are near the top of most polls. So, this should bode well for my season as long as we take care of business on the field. The common sense in me, however, screams otherwise. We should remove this bias as a part of the game. Sure, we have taken a mighty step by eliminating the AP poll as a determining factor, but there's more that needs to be done. I am willing to accept a BCS poll that statistically determines the winner. I also realize we cannot go by win/loss records alone. But, to know that the media is run by money gained from their own televised games, reeks of impropriety. It is in their vested interest to hype Notre Dame every year, despite the obvious lack of success the conscious world expects. I wonder how they will manage to get the struggling Irish into a bowl this year.
Well, it is easy to sit here and whine, but what is the solution? The answer is not simple. It means pulling apart the BCS formulas and eliminating any considerations given to media and even coach's polls (without going on another rant, I will justify this statement by reminding you all that every year Spurrier votes for Duke in the 25 spot). It also means we establish some consistency amongst the conferences. All conferences must play a championship. If USC wants to bow out of the NCAA because of this, that's fine with me.
Now the big change, we go to a playoff. I won't clog this post with the details, but if we can schedule 119 Div I-A schools across 11 or 12 games in about 14 weeks to include some Div I-AA schools, I am certain we can figure out about 8 schools playing over 6 weeks.
Regarless of the solution, there is no place for the media and its vested interest in college football.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

RIVALS ranks Special Teams

Our good friends at Rivals (actually, we don't even know the guys) have been making our jobs easy and ranking the Top Special Teams Players. They've updated their list and it's not that bad, honestly.

Yes, you'll see that Special Teams includes punters and kickers, thankfully no deep snappers, and no gunners. Of course, the part that we care about is the punt returners.

Yes, they hit the obvious ones- DeSean Jackson, Felix Jones, Sammie Stroughter- but they hit some great stories in there as well, such as:

Jeremy Trimble @ Army. This kid gets 1 guaranteed TV game a year. The Navy game is his chance on the big stage, but it's only about a week before the Heisman is decided. Besides, it's always great to be able to talk about the history of the Army program and wax poetically about Michie Field and the Black Knights of the Hudson. Usually TV folks are talking about some kid that is there to go one to be a career army officer and happens to play ball. The fact that Trimble is dangerous is great because it means that TV broadcasters won't be patronizing him when they talk about how much heart and talent he has.

Marcus Thipgen @ Indiana. The late Terry Hoepner was spot on with this talent. Yes, the Hoosiers are on TV-- but usually only when playing Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State. This program hasn't produced a winning season in 12 years (and even that was a 6-5 1994), so it's not like their players get a lot of looks. Still, Thigpen has the chance to take it to the house on every kickoff.

Parrish Cox @ Oklahoma State. Cox was a big blue chipper out of Waco, TX last year and he made impacts in the special teams. Mike Gundy has been landing quality recruiting classes in Stillwater, and one has to wonder if Cox will continue to play on special teams as he logs more time on the field. Just like Cox benefited from playing on special teams last year, Star Signees WR Dex Bryant or CB William Cole could get the chance to return kicks.

But my question is why no mention of Brandon Tate? The JR WR at UNC is a proven returner--he holds single season and career school marks for touchdown returns for scores and is one of only 9 players in the NCAA HISTORY to score on both a kickoff and punt return in the same game (vs Duke last year).